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House of Commons Hansard #23 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was money.

Topics

EthicsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to confirm to the members of the House that Mr. Jaffer never made any inquiries with respect to his business.

EthicsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, in the affair involving the former minister for the status of women, the government is using the same tactics the Liberals used during the sponsorship scandal: it is refusing to answer, because the matter is under investigation. That is a bit rich coming from a government that campaigned on transparency.

Since rumours are often worse than the facts—unless the reverse is true in this case—will the government tell us what prompted it to relieve the former minister for the status of women of her duties and turn the case over to the RCMP?

EthicsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, on Friday, we learned of allegations made by a third party. Those allegations were referred to the RCMP and the Ethics Commissioner. The RCMP and the Ethics Commissioner will draw their own conclusions.

EthicsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, those are the same answers that Mr. Chrétien and Mr. Gagliano gave and that outraged the opposition leader, who is now the Prime Minister. In changing sides, he has changed his tune.

It is hard to follow the government in this case. A week ago, the Prime Minister came to the defence of the Minister for the Status of Women, saying that there was nothing wrong, that everything was fine and that she was entitled to her privacy, as in the case of the member for Beauce. We are not talking about something that happened 25 years ago.

The government must have had serious reasons for kicking the former minister out of caucus. It should tell us what those reasons are.

EthicsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, the allegations came to light on Friday, and we acted quickly and appropriately. These allegations do not involve any other minister, any MP, any senator or any government employee.

EthicsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Freeman Bloc Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Mr. Speaker, by involving the RCMP in the matter of the former minister for the status of women without further explanation, the Prime Minister is raising a whole host of questions of a criminal nature. It seems that the dubious dealings of the ex-minister's husband, the former chair of the Conservative caucus, and the inappropriate use of House of Commons property explains the involvement of the RCMP in this matter.

Will the government be transparent and disclose the information that led to the minister's dismissal?

EthicsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, we acted promptly. When we learned of the allegations we immediately referred the matter to the RCMP and the Ethics Commissioner. They will draw their own conclusions. I wish to remind hon. members that it was our government that implemented the Federal Accountability Act precisely to clean house here in Ottawa.

EthicsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Freeman Bloc Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Mr. Speaker, by refusing to answer the question, the government is allowing wild rumours to flow freely. A source contacted by the Globe and Mail has acknowledged that the minister's dismissal involves her husband’s business dealings peripherally. Others question the legitimacy of an $800,000 mortgage obtained by the former minister.

When will the government put an end to this circus by shedding light on the compromising information that was handed over to the police?

EthicsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, we learned of the allegations from a third party last Friday. When we found out, we acted promptly by referring the matter to the RCMP and the ethics commissioner. These two parties will draw their own conclusions; the process is underway. As a government we acted promptly.

Nuclear ProliferationOral Questions

April 12th, 2010 / 2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the nuclear summit is opening today in Washington.

The Conservative government does not seem to have learned from the mistakes of the past, the mistakes that brought India into the nuclear club in the first place, and it is out there flogging technology without having ensured that all of the proper safeguards that we need are in place.

Canadians are expecting that we would be an active part of preventing nuclear proliferation. Even former Conservative Senator Roche has been saying that Canada is off-side.

Will the government support the proposals of President Obama to put a limit on nuclear proliferation in the state we are in right now?

Nuclear ProliferationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I want to tell the leader of the New Democratic Party that the Prime Minister shares the concern on nuclear proliferation and we share the concern of a rogue state or a terrorist organization getting access to nuclear materials or nuclear weapons, which is why the Prime Minister is joining dozens of world leaders in Washington right now to discuss what we may do best to help counter this significant threat to Canadian security and indeed the security of people all over the world.

EthicsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday was the fourth anniversary of the Federal Accountability Act.

However, since then, we have seen links between the member for Beauce and biker gangs, and then another link between biker gangs and the former minister for the status of women. She is now under investigation by the RCMP. The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is also involved in a conflict of interest.

Can the government explain exactly what difference there is now between the Conservatives and the Liberals?

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, it was this government, upon taking office, that brought in the Federal Accountability Act, the toughest anti-corruption legislation ever passed by this Parliament. For the first time in a generation, we ended the influence of big money and politics, no more big corporate donations and no more big union donations. We put a huge amount of power back in the hands of the Canadian people where that power is deserved.

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government must provide answers now so that we can put this sordid business aside and start to deal with the important issues affecting Canadians.

The Prime Minister's guide for ministers, which I have here, states very clearly in standards of conduct:

Full accountability to Canadians is a central objective of this government.

That stands in tatters today.

The Prime Minister is ultimately responsible for his cabinet and he must be accountable and transparent. Why was this matter referred to the RCMP? Would he give us an answer today?

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, it was for the very reasons that the member described that the Prime Minister, when he received these allegations, allegations that are unproven to him or anyone else, referred these allegations to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and to the Ethics Commissioner. Those are the independent agencies that are charged with making this type of determination. The Prime Minister acted quickly and expeditiously on this important issue.

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government is trying to claim that Rahim Jaffer is an ordinary citizen. Despite its denials, there are so many links that the government seems to be caught in a spider web.

On April 30, 2009, Rahim Jaffer attended a reception for Christine Elliott's leadership campaign. The Minister of Finance was at that same reception.

What did the Minister of Finance talk about with Rahim Jaffer? Did he report the discussion to the commissioner of lobbying, as required by law?

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, if that was the second round, the best that the Liberal Party has to offer, or in the case of the member, the second best that the Liberal Party has, I really shake my head.

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, the then-Minister of Natural Resources was also at that reception. We know that Rahim Jaffer has claimed to have access to a green fund. Furthermore, he has bragged about his influence with Conservative ministers. Canadians want to get to the bottom of this and do not want to hear prepared statements.

What did the former natural resources minister talk about with Mr. Jaffer? Did she report the discussion to the commissioner of lobbying, as required by law?

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Jaffer is in private life now. If the member opposite has any serious allegations to bring forward with respect to this case, I would expect that he should put any evidence on the floor of the House of Commons right now.

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, the last time a Prime Minister was forced to call in the RCMP to investigate a sitting member of his own cabinet was in 1987 under Brian Mulroney. Unlike this time, then Prime Minister Mulroney made clear the nature of that investigation. He realized that when a minister of the Crown was possibly involved in criminal activity and abuses of public trust, disclosure is critical to maintaining public confidence.

If disclosing the nature of such an investigation was a moral obligation to Mr. Mulroney, why is it not for the present Prime Minister?

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, when the allegations were brought to the Prime Minister's attention, he moved expeditiously and quickly. He immediately referred them to the two relevant independent authorities, the RCMP and the Office of the Ethics Commissioner. Those authorities will be the ones who will come to conclusions with respect to these matters.

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

However, Mr. Speaker, they will not tell us what the allegations are.

From redacting documents, to shutting down Parliament, to firing critical watchdogs and attacking the independence of the public service, the government loathes accountability. If a fact does not fit its rhetoric there is not a word it will not black out, an institution it will not shut down or a truth it will not conceal.

A minister was removed and a criminal investigation has begun. These are serious allegations that demand answers.

Accountability is not an act that was passed four years ago. It is the actions that are taken right now. What is the nature of these allegations?

EthicsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I do not share the opinion of the member opposite with respect to his conclusions on this issue.

Here is what we know. Some allegations were brought forward to the Prime Minister's attention. He showed some confidence in the RCMP and the Office of the Ethics Commission by immediately forwarding these allegations so that they could be independently reviewed.

Democratic ReformOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, Quebec's National Assembly is unanimously opposed to the addition of 30 supplementary seats in the House of Commons because it will reduce the political weight of the Quebec nation in this parliament. The current calculation method has many exceptions, notably the senatorial clause protecting the weight of the Maritime provinces.

If they can make some exceptions to equal representation for voters, why are they refusing to maintain the Quebec nation's political weight and not guaranteeing it 25% of the seats?

Democratic ReformOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, Quebec has a guaranteed minimum of 75 seats. That said, the basic principle of democracy has to be respected; that is, the number of seats is based on population. It is as simple as that.

But once again, the Bloc, to create division, is setting aside its principle of fairness. The real political setback is keeping Quebec isolated in opposition for the past 20 years and more.