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House of Commons Hansard #25 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was international.

Topics

EthicsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, a parliamentary secretary meets with Mr. Jaffer and his business partner to discuss cash for their clients. It is the very definition of lobbying. None of it was reported; none of it was registered.

We now know the parliamentary secretary met with them again, this time on September 3, the same day Mr. Jaffer had a personal dinner with the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities and eight days before Mr. Jaffer boasted of access.

How can we believe the lobbying efforts did not continue with the minister over dinner? Why were these unregistered lobbyists given this kind of access and not reported as required by law?

EthicsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the law in this case is very, very clear. It imposes obligations on those who lobby government. They are very specifically prescribed in the act and all lobbyists are expected to follow that important legislation.

EthicsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner is refusing to investigate the affair involving the former minister for the status of women and Rahim Jaffer. She says that it is not up to her to look into this matter. We are forced to conclude that the allegations forwarded to the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner are of a criminal nature.

Will the Prime Minister finally agree to show some transparency and explain what the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner does and does not have the authority to do?

EthicsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I received serious allegations, which I forwarded to the RCMP and the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner.

It is up to the authorities to take the appropriate action.

EthicsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner said she did not have the authority to conduct an inquiry into the matter. But the commissioner reports to Parliament. We are therefore entitled to know why she does not have the authority to look into the affair involving the former minister for the status of women and her husband, Rahim Jaffer.

Will the Prime Minister finally disclose the exact nature of the allegations that forced him to put the matter in the hands of the RCMP?

EthicsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as I just said, I received serious allegations, but I do not have direct knowledge of this information. That is why I forwarded it to the RCMP and others.

It is perfectly appropriate for the authorities to take the necessary action.

EthicsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Freeman Bloc Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner has refused to examine the allegations concerning the former Minister of the Status of Women. She maintains that such matters do not fall within her mandate. Shady business relations, drug trafficking, bribery, the use of Parliamentary assets for questionable purposes are all matters within the authority of the RCMP.

Because these are serious allegations that are criminal in nature, does the government acknowledge that the specific information provided to the RCMP should be revealed to clear the air?

EthicsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, it is very clear that when the Prime Minister and his office were apprised of new information, they did two things: they forwarded this information to the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, who operates independently of the House, as well as to the RCMP.

Those are the actions of a government that is very aware of the ethical standard in Canada. That is why the RCMP should have the time to study the information.

EthicsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Freeman Bloc Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Mr. Speaker, since the government is refusing to come out with the facts, we have to rely on the media to learn more.

We have learned that the minister's dismissal was prompted by the actions of a private detective. Bribery, drug use and trafficking are allegedly central to the revelations in the hands of the Prime Minister's Office

Can the government confirm what information was forwarded to the RCMP?

EthicsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, all the information was sent to the RCMP and Parliament's Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner.

These two organizations are independent and we should give them the time to deal with the matter.

Access to InformationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the culture of secrecy of the Conservatives is reaching new heights. We have the Information Commissioner telling us that our system is in tatters. We had the Eyes Wide Shut approach on torture in Afghanistan, and so on. Now we learn that the Prime Minister referred a matter to the RCMP based on a report from Magnum, P.I.

Why? What is the origin here? What we see today is the chief stonewaller refusing to tell us. Would he tell us what the private eye told him? At least he should give us a hint as to why the RCMP is involved.

Access to InformationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, of course, it is not appropriate that I would comment on any such information. It is appropriate that the authorities would have that information and would look into it. Of course, if the hon. member would have any similar information, I am sure he would do the same.

However, I have to reject the premise of the question. I think it has been very apparent for many years in Afghanistan now that whenever Canadian officials or Canadian military personnel receive any problems in their dealings with Afghan prisoners, they take the appropriate action.

Canada Health ActOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Canada Health Act is the result of work started by the NDP 50 years ago. It is also an agreement between the federal government, the provinces and the territories to provide Canadians with health care that is free, universal, portable from province to province, and publicly administered. It is of the utmost importance to us.

Does the government intend to strictly enforce the Canada Health Act, yes or no?

Canada Health ActOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Canada Health Act is the law in this country. We expect the provinces to respect the law.

Canada Health ActOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the NDP has always been steadfast in our support of the Canada Health Act. We have denounced violations of this act time and time again and we are going to keep on doing it.

Some have recently opened up discussions about the possibility of imposing user fees on patients. A number of members of the House have taken a position in favour of such a proposal and they are in fact willing to amend the Canada Health Act.

Is the government committed to enforcing the Canada Health Act or is it preparing to amend it?

Canada Health ActOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I certainly respect the willingness of the NDP to enforce the Canada Health Act against any violations but it should first be sure that violations have actually occurred.

The reality is very clear. The Canada Health Act is the law of the land and this government has indicated that it expects the provinces to follow the law.

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, we now know that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities had the authority to review projects for the billion dollar green fund. This same parliamentary secretary spoke to Mr. Jaffer about his business plans, and then reviewed three plans submitted by Mr. Jaffer and Mr. Glemaud's business.

Why did the parliamentary secretary not report this meeting to the lobbying commissioner, as required by law?

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, it will come as no surprise that I completely reject the premise of the question raised by the member for Beauséjour. The parliamentary secretary has been very clear that he did have a meeting and that no funding was recommended. No funding was awarded to such grants.

I think that shows that this government places a high priority on ethical conduct. I understand that the Liberal Party has referred this matter to the independent lobbying commissioner. It was this government that appointed an independent lobbying commissioner to look into these things.

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary himself admits that he was not sure whether or not it was lobbying. These doubts clearly did not prevent him from meeting Mr. Jaffer again on September 3, 2009, the same day that the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities was having dinner with Mr. Jaffer. Eight days later, Mr. Jaffer bragged to his clients about having privileged access to the green fund.

Does the minister still claim that Mr. Jaffer was not lobbying?

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I said in this place on Monday that at no time did Mr. Jaffer ever raise any particular grant applications with me with respect to the green fund or any other fund for that matter. I was very clear about that on Monday and I am happy to remind the member for Beauséjour again.

Access to InformationOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Liberal Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, “totally obliterated” is the phrase used by the Information Commissioner about what is happening to access to information in Canada. She said she has seen “no evidence” of a culture of transparency in the government.

The Prime Minister's chief of staff helped to prove that point at committee yesterday when he refused to answer if political staff had intervened to stop information from being released. Documents about torture have been censored, information requests have been blocked and criminal allegations against a minister have been covered up. Why the secrecy?

Access to InformationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

North Vancouver B.C.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, we appreciate the advice that the Information Commissioner has given. The majority of requests were responded to within 30 days. Some requests took longer than 30 days but we are working to ensure that those numbers improve.

Access to InformationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Liberal Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, a report has revealed that Canadian Heritage received an F on its access to information report card. The report shows that requests take an average of 107 days because the minister wants to control everything. An F is the worst grade you can get. It means fail. It is terrible.

Can the minister tell us why he got this grade? Is it (a) because he thinks he is above the law; (b) because he is incompetent; or (c) because he has something to hide?

What is the answer?

Access to InformationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, there is nothing to hide. Our government is very proud of its commitment to arts and culture. We are making unprecedented investments in arts and culture and we are proud of what we have done. During the election campaign we made a commitment and we invested in television, arts, culture, museums, youth and festivals. That is what we have done. I am very proud of it. The doors are wide open on everything we have done. I am very proud of our commitment.

Rights & DemocracyOral Questions

April 14th, 2010 / 2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, on the pretext that Rights & Democracy was being mismanaged, the government took control of that organization. Interestingly, in recent months, compensation paid to the board of directors has doubled. Its president, Jacques Gauthier, works five days and bills for 11. Contracts are being awarded to friends without calls for tender. Along the way, the reputation of the former president, Rémy Beauregard, is being tarnished because someone leaked a false report, which should be withdrawn.

Will the government acknowledge that it is turning a blind eye because it agrees with these actions?