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House of Commons Hansard #44 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was judges.

Topics

Canada Revenue AgencyOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo B.C.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, the government appreciates that these are very serious allegations. An RCMP investigation into this matter is ongoing, and CRA officials are co-operating fully. Many of these allegations date back more than a decade, and some of these cases are currently making their way through the courts.

The integrity of our tax system is very important to all Canadians and we will take all steps necessary to ensure it is protected.

Canada Revenue AgencyOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, the corruption investigation started in the Montreal office and now has spread. Other Quebec offices are under investigation. The growing scope of this investigation is raising questions about the state of the CRA as a whole. Canadians expect this agency to operate with impeccable integrity.

Conservatives need to clear the air about these troubling corruption allegations. Can the government tell us if it has asked for an investigation all across Canada? What is it doing to restore the confidence of Canadians?

Canada Revenue AgencyOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo B.C.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, we absolutely agree that the integrity of our tax system is important to all Canadians. Our government will take any steps necessary to ensure it is protected. An RCMP investigation into these matters is ongoing, and CRA officials are co-operating fully.

Auditor GeneralOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is becoming increasingly clear that the Conservatives, by toying with the process and appointing an anglophone auditor general, have violated one of our country's basic values. When the job posting states that proficiency in French and English is an essential hiring condition for the position of Auditor General, it does not meant that bilingualism is an asset qualification; it is an immutable condition. It is part of the qualifications. If the candidate is not bilingual, then the candidate should not be offered the job.

Will the Prime Minister recognize that the government erred in its flawed process and that the only thing left to do is to start from square one and appoint a bilingual auditor general?

Auditor GeneralOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, we chose the best candidate who applied for the position of Auditor General. This candidate is highly qualified. He will do a good job.

What is increasingly clear is that the Liberal Party wants to use this issue to divide Canadians. This individual has committed to learning our second language, and we should be very proud of that fact.

Auditor GeneralOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, this tainted process is now affecting the Office of the Auditor General of Canada. I have just learned that Michel Dorais, who is one of the independent members of the audit committee and has been a senior public servant for over 30 years, has just resigned, stating that he cannot “continue to serve...while accepting that the incoming auditor general does not meet an essential requirement for the position.” Michel Dorais has spent his entire career fighting for bilingualism in the public service.

What are the Conservatives waiting for to show respect for all Canadians and for Michel Dorais as a bilingual individual?

Auditor GeneralOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, this government strongly supports the official languages of this great country. We are pleased that the best candidate for the job has agreed to learn French.

What is interesting is the double standard of the Liberal Party. When the last Liberal prime minister, Paul Martin, appointed a unilingual anglophone as his finance minister, was that member standing to complain? No. He was standing right behind that decision. If it is good enough for a minister of finance to be unilingually English, why is it not good enough for the best candidate to be appointed as Auditor General and who has committed to learning French?

Auditor GeneralOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, we do not want an auditor general for the government; we want an auditor general for Parliament and for all Canadians.

Now we learn that one of the two independent members of the AG internal audit committee, a distinguished ex-deputy minister of over 30 years, Michel Dorais, submitted his resignation this morning. Why? It is because for him bilingualism was no longer an issue of convenience or communication but a question of competency.

I have his letter in my hand. Let us have no more excuses. What must be done is to make the Prime Minister come to his senses and launch a new selection process. Canadians want that. What will he do about it?

Auditor GeneralOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, we have a new Auditor General, someone who embraces our official languages, someone who has committed to learning French, which is tremendously important.

Eighty per cent of Canadians do not have bilingual qualifications. There is a role for them. This individual has committed to learning French, but, again, this is one rule for the public service and another rule for the Liberal Party. The Liberal Party was quite happy to have a unilingual anglophone who did not speak French, despite serving in Parliament for 30 years, and yet it puts another rule on everyone else. Is there one rule for the Liberal Party and another rule for Canadians?

EthicsOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

Mr. Speaker, Michael Chamas, who is currently facing international drug trafficking charges, attended a Conservative fundraising event in 2008. The former foreign affairs minister and current Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism introduced this person, saying that what the party needed was support from people like him who believe in themselves, because in the end, they are the ones who will create wealth and jobs and really make something of themselves.

Will the Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism admit that his comments were completely inappropriate coming from a minister?

EthicsOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Beauce Québec

Conservative

Maxime Bernier ConservativeMinister of State (Small Business and Tourism)

Mr. Speaker, as I have publicly stated many times, the first and only time I met that individual was at a public event. That person asked to have a photo taken with me, and I agreed. I have not seen that person since.

EthicsOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Chamas donated $5,000 in cash to the Papineau Conservative Party riding association. He even gave the former foreign affairs minister a gift-wrapped parcel. The minister's assistant wrote that the RCMP had called to say that everyone present at that event had been placed under close surveillance.

Can the Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism tell us why he was there?

EthicsOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I am not sure questions about donations for political parties by private individuals count as administration of government, but I do see the government House leader rising to answer.

EthicsOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I will simply say that we respect all aspects of the Elections Act and all those that relate to political financing.

EthicsOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen NDP Welland, ON

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to meeting with shady businessmen, Canadians expect more from cabinet ministers and expect good judgment from all of us in the House today.

However, the Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism was at a meeting with an accused gunrunner and where he saw cash-stuffed envelopes were being passed around.

Will the minister of state stop stonewalling and please tell Canadians what his role was in this fiasco?

EthicsOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, it is quite clear that if anybody has any information suggesting that any law has been broken, they should bring that forward; otherwise, they should resist the temptation to simply make smears, such as the opposition member wishes to do right now.

EthicsOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen NDP Welland, ON

Mr. Speaker, we see corruption at the CRA, a cabinet minister carousing with accused gun smugglers and stonewalling on their G8 slush fund. It has not been a good week for Conservatives. In fact, as one newspaper editorial put it this week, “Is the Prime Minister getting a queasy feeling? He should be. This isn't pretty”. How true.

On Wednesday, the Muskoka minister failed to answer questions at committee and flailed around while he was there. However, he did promise one thing. He promised to send an evaluation of his pork-barrel projects.

Will the minister table those documents today?

EthicsOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the President of the Treasury Board attended committee, as I did and as three deputy ministers did, and answered all questions that members had on this issue.

The Auditor General has confirmed that all money was spent appropriately. Every dollar has been accounted for, and all the money that was spent was on public infrastructure.

EthicsOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Jamie Nicholls NDP Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, on Wednesday, not only was the President of the Treasury Board asked to hand over the FedNor evaluation done by Tom Dodds, but he was also asked to give Parliament the project applications that went directly through his constituency office, to which the President of the Treasury Board responded, “Sure.”

The person who controls our country's spending must keep his promises. When will we see these documents?

EthicsOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the President of the Treasury Board spent two hours answering all the members' questions in committee and also answered them here in this House. He responded to all the requests of the Auditor General and to each request for documents that she made.

The government works very hard to ensure that every dollar goes towards public projects, projects for municipalities and provincial infrastructure projects and every dollar went to those needs.

EthicsOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Jamie Nicholls NDP Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, the President of the Treasury Board's testimony left us with more questions than answers. As if by magic, of the 242 projects proposed, only 33 remained. Who in the government assessed the relevance of these projects? Why did no department document the process?

Canadians have a right to know, and this government has a duty to be transparent. When will we finally get the truth?

EthicsOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, before committee, all the questions were given responses.

With respect to the 32 projects that received funding, all of them were evaluated by public servants of Infrastructure Canada who deemed that every one of those projects were eligible under the criteria established before the program. Each one of those 32 projects had a contribution agreement that was prepared by the public service and signed off by the relevant authorities.

The reality is that the President of the Treasury Board answered every question at committee. I regret that the New Democratic Party is not prepared to accept answers for those questions.

Atomic Energy of Canada LimitedOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

François Lapointe NDP Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the government quietly revealed that it will spend more than $800 million on AECL this year alone.

Many people may say that massive overspending on the nuclear crown corporation is par for the course for the government, but what is different this time is that it has already sold most of the business to a private company.

Why is the minister hanging taxpayers out to dry while subsidizing privatized nuclear power?

Atomic Energy of Canada LimitedOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Cypress Hills—Grasslands Saskatchewan

Conservative

David Anderson ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, the reason that we have sold this to a strong private sector partner is precisely for that reason. We agree that AECL is costing taxpayers too much money, and that is why we moved ahead.

Actually, if the NDP had its way, there would not be a nuclear job in this country. It would cost Canadians 30,000 jobs.

We are moving ahead, protecting taxpayers and protecting industry at the same time.

Atomic Energy of Canada LimitedOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

François Lapointe NDP Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government has botched the sale of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited. Furthermore, it was not transparent about the process, and we are now seeing the results. We have learned that the sale of the CANDU reactor division has cost $280 million and that the return on investment was only $15 million. That is a net loss of $265 million for Canadians, who had already paid $21 billion to support Atomic Energy of Canada Limited ever since it was created.

Starting in 2012, will this government stop running Canada's energy resources at a loss?