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House of Commons Hansard #132 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was fednor.

Topics

International Co-operationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, even worse, it was this same Prime Minister who wrote a guide that gives specific instructions to his ministers. They are obligated to stand up—yet that minister will not stand up—not only to set the record straight but also to speak the truth when answering parliamentarians' questions. Yet he continues to defend the minister. As if that were not enough, now it is no longer her fault; it was done by a mechanical arm. We are not puppets here. The great filmmaker Claude Lelouch said “Lying is an option that anyone can choose, but we always pay for it one day.” That day has arrived.

When will he fire the minister?

International Co-operationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, that was certainly a very colourful question from my colleague opposite.

The minister has been very clear that she made the decision not to provide a grant to this particular organization. The minister has been very clear that she is the one who is trying to put foreign aid to help the vulnerable in the developing world. She has done an amazing job of doing that.

Perhaps in some of the Liberal days Canadian NGOs felt that they were entitled to grants every year.

The minister has done an outstanding job as the Minister of International Cooperation.

International Co-operationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government likes to hide behind half-truths. With regard to funding for the humanitarian agency, KAIROS, the Prime Minister told us the decision was made by the Minister of International Cooperation. The problem is that the minister told us that her decision was based on the advice of her officials and that is not true. CIDA officials recommended the grant to KAIROS and the minister reversed the decision.

How can the Prime Minister continue to stand behind a minister who does not tell the truth?

International Co-operationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the minister indicated here in the House and in committee that she was the one who made the decision. It was the right decision.

International Co-operationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is also telling us the opposite of the truth. For a year, this minister told us that officials recommended that she take this decision. That is what she said in committee, that is what she said here, and that is what she said to journalists. What is more, this minister falsified documents and the Prime Minister condones that.

Is it worthy of a Prime Minister to act that way?

International Co-operationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the minister was clear several times in her testimony before committee when she said that she was the one who made the decision. I think the minister made the right decision. It is essential for taxpayers' money to be used effectively for humanitarian aid and for the health and well-being of the poorest, most vulnerable people in the world.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Jean Dorion Bloc Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Foreign Affairs says that he has not received any requests from Tunisian officials to freeze Ben Ali's assets. But we received a verbal note from the Tunisian ambassador dated January 24, 2011, asking Canadian authorities to take the necessary steps to freeze the financial assets of Ben Ali's family. We will table this note.

In light of this, how could the minister have told us that he did not receive any requests from the Tunisian government to freeze the assets of Ben Ali's family?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, our government is prepared to assist the government of Tunisia in any way we can in accordance with our law. We are going to continue to work with Tunisian officials on this issue. Obviously, we all have an interest in making sure that justice is done for the people of Tunisia.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Jean Dorion Bloc Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Mr. Speaker, the ambassador is worried that by not freezing the assets of Ben Ali's family immediately, the government is playing into the hands of these tax evasion experts, who can transfer their money into tax havens with complete peace of mind.

Is the minister aware that without immediate interim measures to freeze these assets, he is an accomplice to the misappropriation and theft of these assets, which belong to the Tunisian people? Canada should be supporting Tunisians, not criminals.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, we are certainly not on the side of the Bloc.

That being said, we will continue to work with Tunisian officials. We all have an interest in making sure that justice is done for the people of Tunisia, and that is what we will continue to do.

International Co-operationOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, in the KAIROS affair, the question is no longer about a discredited minister. The question now has to do with the Prime Minister.

Yesterday in this House the Prime Minister condoned forging documents and condoned misleading this House. How can Canadians trust a Prime Minister who would have such contempt for this place? He tries to claim that the minister has the right to make decisions, but there is no right to forge documents. There is no right to mislead the House.

What kind of leadership is that?

International Co-operationOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the president of CIDA herself has said that the minister indicated she did not agree with her recommendation. Let me read quotations from the very testimony that the hon. members purport to represent.

The minister said on page 3 of her testimony, “Ultimately, it's the minister's responsibility and it's the minister's decision”. Again on page 3, it “reflects the decision of the government” and the minister. Again on page 3, “I was entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring the government's policies are being followed”.

I could go on. There are at least 10 different references to the minister saying it was clearly her decision.

International Co-operationOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of International Cooperation no longer deserves her position. Everyone is in agreement about that. She made the wrong decision by cutting funding to KAIROS. She did so against the advice of government experts. She did so by forging a document. And she did so by using the bureaucracy as a cover-up. She does not deserve to be a minister.

Where is the Prime Minister's leadership?

International Co-operationOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the truth is that the agency gave advice that differed from the decision made by the minister. The minister said that. She said that it was her decision. That is the nature of our responsibility here. Officials do not make those types of decisions; elected ministers do. The minister took responsibility and the government supports her efforts.

International Co-operationOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the denial of funding has nothing to do with merit or effectiveness as evaluated by the bureaucracy. It has everything to do with politics, politics right out of the Prime Minister's playbook; politics that say it is fine to play partisan games with no accountability, to forge documents, to make things up, to come up with arbitrary political decisions, and then let them cover up afterwards and, even worse, let them mislead Parliament. That does not matter; that is fine according to the politics of the Prime Minister.

When will he take some responsibility and restore the funding for KAIROS? That is the bottom line.

International Co-operationOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, what is wrong is when governments slavishly follow advice that results in taxpayer money used, not for the purpose it was supposed to be used for, which is to help the people in the developing world, help the poorest and the most vulnerable, but instead for other purposes.

The government has been very clear that it expects taxpayer money to be used not to reward Canadian organizations, but to promote the foreign policy and the humanitarian objectives of the government. That is exactly what the minister has done.

International Co-operationOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, we now know the Prime Minister supports his minister's contempt for Parliament. He supports her mistakes, and shamefully, he even says it was the right thing to do. Is it because, as he said, he makes the rules?

Why is the minister allowing herself to be manipulated by the Prime Minister? Is it because he will not let her resign? Is that why she will not defend herself?

Certainly she would prefer to defend her own integrity and answer for her own actions.

International Co-operationOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, that is quite rich.

Let me tell the House about the minister. The minister has done good work in helping millions of people around the world get the help and the assistance they require in very vulnerable situations. She is the minister who helped double Canadian aid to Africa, helping some of the most vulnerable people on the planet.

She is a minister who made a difficult and courageous decision when it came to not awarding a grant in this regard. It was the correct decision. It was the right decision, and the government stands behind that decision.

International Co-operationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, this is an issue of integrity. It is about dignity and honesty. It is about respect not only for the position the minister holds, but for the people she is supposed to represent.

If she really believes Canadians and her own constituents think she is in the right, why can she not just say so?

I quote, “Ministers must be present in Parliament to answer honestly and accurately about their areas of responsibility”. Who said that? The Prime Minister.

Where is the accuracy? Where is the honesty? Where is the minister?

International Co-operationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of International Cooperation attended at committee on Thursday, December 9. On more than 10 times she was incredibly clear that it was her decision not to give this particular non-governmental organization a grant. She was very clear about that. She was once again clear about it earlier this week in this place.

International Co-operationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is obvious by now that CIDA, and possibly the minister, approved the KAIROS grant. Then persons unknown inserted the “not” in the document and doctored it to make it look like CIDA turned down the application.

What specific Conservative government policy did the Christian churches offend after being approved for the CIDA grant?

International Co-operationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I would encourage the member opposite to look at the committee transcript from December 9, where the deputy minister responsible said the inclusion of the word “not” is just a simple reflection of what her decision was. That is exactly what she said.

International Co-operationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is the right of every minister to make ministerial decisions. However, it is not the right of a minister to make a decision and then doctor a document and make it appear as if it is someone else's decision.

Mr. Speaker, until you blew the whistle, the minister was perfectly content to mislead the House.

Is the Prime Minister prepared to fire the minister, or will he have Parliament do it?

International Co-operationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, what is certainly very clear is the member opposite did not agree with the decision the minister made. Those of us on the government side of the House agree that the minister made the right decision. She made the correct decision. We support that decision.

Government SpendingOral Questions

February 16th, 2011 / 2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Parliamentary Budget Officer has spoken out against the government's obscurantism before the Standing Committee on Finance. He was annoyed that the Conservatives too often use the cloak of cabinet confidence to withhold documents that he and we need to do our jobs. The expenditure reduction plan is one example.

Will they understand that it is a basic principle that Parliament authorizes expenditures? Will the government stop hiding things and give us its expenditure reduction plan?