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House of Commons Hansard #75 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was seniors.

Topics

Ministerial ResponsibilityOral Questions

9:30 a.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister cannot have it both ways.

Just a month ago, that government leader proclaimed:

The fundamental constitutional principle of responsible government...provides that ministers are the ones accountable to Parliament, not members of their staff

So when his staff broke the law by meddling in information requests, the minister is accountable.

Instead of throwing his assistants under the bus, will he stand up and take responsibility?

Ministerial ResponsibilityOral Questions

9:35 a.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Togneri tendered his resignation to me yesterday and I accepted it. As I said, I immediately asked the Minister of Public Works and Government Services to refer this matter to the Information Commissioner, which the minister confirmed to me this morning has been done.

Ministerial ResponsibilityOral Questions

9:35 a.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, to prevent Mr. Togneri from testifying before the committee about one particular violation of the Access to Information Act, the Minister of Natural Resources, then the Minister of Public Works, invoked ministerial responsibility, which he said is “that the Ministers are accountable not only for their own actions as department heads, but also for the actions of their subordinates.”

Could the minister tell us if this ministerial responsibility only applies when used to prevent accountability?

Ministerial ResponsibilityOral Questions

9:35 a.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Togneri offered his resignation yesterday, and I accepted. As for accountability, I have asked the Minister of Public Works and Government Services to take this file and send it to the Information Commissioner. She confirmed this morning that this had been done.

Ministerial ResponsibilityOral Questions

9:35 a.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, according to the Minister of Natural Resources, he is responsible for the actions of his subordinates. He hired Mr. Togneri as a political advisor. The very same Mr. Togneri accepted responsibility for serious mistakes that violated the Access to Information Act.

Will the minister abide by his own definition of ministerial responsibility and resign?

Ministerial ResponsibilityOral Questions

9:35 a.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, last night, Mr. Togneri tendered his resignation. I accepted it. Mr. Togneri no longer works for me. At my request, the file was forwarded to the Information Commissioner. I immediately asked the Minister of Public Works and Government Services to transfer the file, which was done. The minister confirmed it this morning.

Ministerial ResponsibilityOral Questions

9:35 a.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Natural Resources has claimed that his staff were not accountable before the parliamentary committee because he is responsible for their actions, based on the principle of ministerial responsibility. In committee, the minister said he is fully responsible for his employees' actions.

He should either act like a responsible minister, assume his ministerial responsibility and resign, or he is irresponsible and he should be sent packing, like his employee.

Ministerial ResponsibilityOral Questions

9:35 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I think the minister has taken the appropriate action.

The individual in question has submitted his resignation and the minister has accepted it. The minister has asked the Minister of Public Works and Government Services to transfer the file to the Information Commissioner so that she can do her important work.

Ministerial ResponsibilityOral Questions

9:35 a.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister chooses his staff members and is responsible for their actions. Mr. Togneri acknowledged making several serious mistakes in relation to the Access to Information Act and resigned. The minister showed poor judgment by hiring Mr. Togneri and by trivializing his transgressions.

Will he abide by the principle of ministerial responsibility and offer his resignation?

Ministerial ResponsibilityOral Questions

9:35 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, as the minister has told this House, the individual in question has offered his resignation, and the minister has immediately accepted it. He has also taken the other action of asking the Minister of Public Works and Government Services to refer the matter to the Information Commissioner so that she can do her work.

SeniorsOral Questions

9:35 a.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, as seniors are discovering that they are not one of the government's priorities, today is the first ever National Seniors Day.

Look at what seniors are facing. Their medication costs are going up. Their heating bills are going up, thanks in part to the HST imposed by the government on so many people. Not only that, their basic living costs are rising faster than the cost of inflation.

Yet what is the reaction of the government? It is a few pennies per month.

My question is simply, when will the government finally institute a regular annual increase to OAS and GIS to keep pace or exceed the rate of inflation to help out our seniors?

SeniorsOral Questions

9:35 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, we value the role that seniors play. They helped build this country. That is why we have initiatives that are important to them. This government has always been responsive.

When we hit some hard economic times and hard fiscal times, the one thing this government did not do was cut $25 billion from health care. We have been able to increase that transfer to the provinces by 6% a year to cover the important issues that matter to seniors.

We have also fully indexed the OAS four times a year. That has happened in this country since 1972.

Ministerial ResponsibilityOral Questions

October 1st, 2010 / 9:40 a.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, this government has broken its election promises one after the other.

It has trashed its promises of improving accountability and transparency and putting an end to backroom scheming.

Instead, employees are sacrificed on the altar of transparency because ministers refuse to take responsibility.

How many political staff will be fired before the Prime Minister recognizes that it is his ministers who are responsible, and before he asks for their resignation when they—

Ministerial ResponsibilityOral Questions

9:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Ministerial ResponsibilityOral Questions

9:40 a.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Togneri submitted his resignation last night, which I accepted. I immediately went to my colleague, the Minister of Public Works and Government Services to ask her to take the file and refer it to the information commissioner, which she did right away. The minister confirmed that this morning.

Ministerial ResponsibilityOral Questions

9:40 a.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government does not seem to understand the rules and traditions of parliamentary democracy, which speak about ministerial responsibility, not just the responsibility of the staff. That is the problem.

This is nothing new. We have seen disruption at committees, witnesses told they cannot testify, and now we see another staffer taking the fall.

Last spring, the government said that the buck stopped here with the ministers. We have to ask the question now, why has the Prime Minister not asked for the resignation of the Minister of Natural Resources in view of the blatant misuse of power? Or does the buck stop somewhere else now?

Ministerial ResponsibilityOral Questions

9:40 a.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Togneri submitted his resignation last night, which I accepted, and I asked the Minister of Public Works and Government Services to refer the file to the information commissioner, which she did immediately. The minister confirmed that this morning.

G8 and G20 SummitsOral Questions

9:40 a.m.

Liberal

Siobhan Coady Liberal St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Mr. Speaker, the minister said yesterday that the excessive spending on the summit was for legitimate expenses. Seriously, $2 million for a fake lake exhibit, $4.4 million for a fence and $200 million for hotels, cars, snacks and glow sticks are legitimate expenses? This is out of control spending from a government with no control. The current government is the biggest spending, biggest borrowing government in the history of Canada.

How can the minister justify borrowing to buy for trinkets and treats for a summit on spending control?

G8 and G20 SummitsOral Questions

9:40 a.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, I have been noticing with interest the manufacture of statistics by members opposite.

What I have indicated to the House is that I welcome the Auditor General's review of the bills. We have been very clear about that.

In fact, the head of the integrated security unit has stated:

I think Canada is one of the rare countries that has actually been transparent about the security costs.

G8 and G20 SummitsOral Questions

9:40 a.m.

Liberal

Siobhan Coady Liberal St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Mr. Speaker, there is little wonder that for every dollar spent by the current government on the G8 and G20 it has only disclosed to Canadians about 15¢. Poor judgment meant poor costs. Poor control meant excess spending. This is the most spent on a G20 summit ever, anywhere. Spending of at least $1 billion has yet to be disclosed.

Canadians deserve answers now. So what will it be, proactive disclosure or wilful obstruction?

G8 and G20 SummitsOral Questions

9:40 a.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, unlike the Liberals, we actually wait for the bills to come in before we determine what the costs are.

The member, again, has simply made up another statistic, which is what she and her colleagues have been doing. For example, they indicated that an amount of money, $4 million, had been spent to drain a lake. In fact, the true figure was $144,000, which related to the development of security accommodations for the RCMP officers.

I understand that they do not support the RCMP, but we do.

The EconomyOral Questions

9:40 a.m.

Liberal

Rob Oliphant Liberal Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I seem to be having a recurring nightmare: a borrow and spend government, slush fund spending--

The EconomyOral Questions

9:40 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

The EconomyOral Questions

9:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order, please. Members are not going to be able to hear about the nightmare if they do not listen. We will have some order, please.

The hon. member for Don Valley West has the floor.

The EconomyOral Questions

9:45 a.m.

Liberal

Rob Oliphant Liberal Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, some of us are actually kept up at night, worrying about the fiscal management of this country.

We have a borrow and spend government, slush fund spending, tax breaks for the rich, burdens placed on the middle class, increased payroll taxes, and fiscal incompetence leading to a record-breaking deficit.

Last time, it was the dark ages of the Mike Harris government. Now his old finance minister is in charge of the public purse.

What assurance can the minister give that there is any difference this time around?