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House of Commons Hansard #133 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was cost.

Topics

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Jean Dorion Bloc Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Mr. Speaker, is the Tunisian ambassador not part of the Tunisian government? The minister is completely out of touch with reality. And here is proof: the government's website still says that Ben Ali is Tunisia's president. Despite the fact that the Minister of Foreign Affairs promised to cooperate, the Tunisian ambassador has yet to receive a response to his requests, and Canada has yet to freeze the assets of the Ben Ali family.

Who is the government trying to protect by not taking action?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Mississauga—Erindale Ontario

Conservative

Bob Dechert ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, as I said, we stand ready to assist the people of Tunisia in their fight for justice. We have communicated this to the Tunisian government on several occasions. We have asked for specific information on any assets in Canada so those assets can be frozen. The government of Tunisia has not yet formally responded to our request.

We remain committed to working co-operatively to bring justice to the people of Tunisia.

International Co-operationOral Questions

February 17th, 2011 / 2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister supports the Minister of International Cooperation; we know that. We know that he supports her decision to cut funding to KAIROS, an organization that is respected around the world for its work. His refusal to fire the minister shows that, for him, forging documents is okay, inventing excuses is okay and blaming others is also okay.

However, we still do not know why funding to KAIROS was cut. Why did they do it?

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, maybe to the leader of the New Democratic Party, once any individual or organization gets a grant, they have an entitlement to it in perpetuity. That is not the case.

The minister made a decision on what she thought was best for the expenditure of public funds and the minister turned down this Canadian non-governmental organization's application for a $7 million grant. She felt that the money could be better spent elsewhere.

The minister has done outstanding work helping the vulnerable people of Haiti, working for women and children in our maternal health initiative in Africa, and she has done a heck of a lot to support women and children in Afghanistan.

International Co-operationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government is becoming a little too confident in its spin, because that was not an answer to the question. We still do not know why the funds were cut.

The Prime Minister really needs to take a look at this. The fact is his minister did not tell the truth. She forged a document and the Prime Minister says that is okay.

What kind of a civics lesson is that for our young people, that one can go ahead and forge documents? What a travesty that is when it comes to our responsibilities as parliamentarians. We are here to say that this is not the sort of leadership for which Canadians are looking.

It is not too late. Will the government finally take some responsibility?

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, just because the leader of the New Democratic Party wants to say the same falsehood many times does not make it true, and it will not make it true.

He has his right to come to his own conclusion, make his own opinion on what organizations should get grants, but he does not have the right to decide what the facts are. The fact is, as stated by the deputy minister before committee last year, “The inclusion of the word “not” is just a simple reflection of what her decision was”.

International Co-operationOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the fact that one of his ministers misled the House and arranged for a document to be forged is bad enough. However, it is a pattern of abuse. It is a pattern that shows we cannot trust the government. We cannot trust it on prorogation. We cannot trust it on access to information or on media access. On its own election law, we cannot trust it, for heaven's sakes. We cannot trust it on the census because it does not want real information. We cannot trust the Prime Minister with democracy.

It is not too late. Do the right thing and fire the minister.

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, let me tell the member opposite and Canadians this.

Canadians can trust the Prime Minister to do the right thing on taxes. They can count on the Prime Minister to do the right thing on equipping our men and women in uniform with the tools they need to do the job. They can trust the Prime Minister on sovereignty. They can trust the Prime Minister on providing health care funding for the provinces. They can trust the Prime Minister to never make a deal with the Bloc Québécois to form a coalition government.

International Co-operationOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives have a very strange definition of trust. Every time a Conservative rises in the House, we have been asked to believe the unbelievable. They do not just say it is okay to doctor documents; they say it is the right thing to do. They do not just say that it is okay to lie to the House and to Canadians; they say it is the right thing to do.

The Prime Minister is using the minister as a shield to protect himself from blame. Why is he hiding behind the minister and why will he not let her resign?

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, it will not come as a surprise to any member of the House that I do not accept any of the statements made by the member opposite.

International Co-operationOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, that is another response that is unbelievable.

The actions of the Minister of International Cooperation show nothing but contempt for our democracy and for the integrity of CIDA officials. KAIROS was funded for 35 straight years, even by the Progressive Conservatives. It should not have been cut.

When will the Prime Minister let the minister resign? When will he show the young people who come to the House that he knows the difference between right and wrong, the difference between the truth and a lie?

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, the reality is Canadians will never look to the Liberal Party as a bastion of integrity and good government. That is why this government was elected to raise the ethical standards. That is why we brought in the Federal Accountability Act. We stopped the right of every organization in the country to assume that once they got a government grant, they somehow had an entitlement to it in perpetuity.

The minister made the decision not to fund this organization. She felt that foreign aid money could be better spent. She made the right decision.

International Co-operationOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, we know where the Prime Minister and the government House leader stand on that regime's attack on KAIROS. Both have condoned the misleading of the House. Both condone the contempt for committees. Both continue to condone the forging of documents.

Will the minister herself please help us out? Did she forge the documents all by herself on her own, or was she ordered to do so and asked to lie about it by the Prime Minister's Office?

International Co-operationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

It is quite something, Mr. Speaker, for the member to get up and talk about ethics in government and I think he knows exactly what I am saying. He should be ashamed of himself.

International Co-operationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

That was some answer, Mr. Speaker--

International Co-operationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

International Co-operationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order, please. The hon. member for Malpeque has the floor for a supplementary question.

International Co-operationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I am used to the drive-by smears of the House leader.

The Minister of International Cooperation fails to stand up in the House and answer to the Canadian people, yet she continues to arrive on the Hill in her limo and accept all the parliamentary perks, cars, drivers, staff, a hotline to the PMO. This is the direct opposite of ministerial accountability.

Will she now accept responsibility, do the right thing, and resign?

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 know the actions of the minister and I know the actions of that member. The minister has more integrity in the tip of her finger than the member for Malpeque does.

The minister has taken responsibility for the decision that she made. She took responsibility more than 10 times when she was at committee last year. She took responsibility this week. She made the decision--

International Co-operationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

International Co-operationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order. The hon. government House leader has the floor. We will have some order please.

The government House leader has finished. The hon. member for Alfred-Pellan.

Tax EvasionOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Carrier Bloc Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are too complacent about fraudsters who are trying to hide their loot. We need only look as far as their reluctance to freeze the Ben Ali family's assets. Moreover, an internal report from Revenue Canada shows that most tax evaders successfully avoid going to prison and that the Conservatives are only going after small-scale fraudsters.

How can this government, which boasts about being tough on crime, turn a blind eye to tax evasion?

Tax EvasionOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Fredericton New Brunswick

Conservative

Keith Ashfield ConservativeMinister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, our government is absolutely committed to catching and prosecuting individuals who try to cheat the tax system. We want to ensure that our efforts to go after tax cheats are effective. Internal audits like this help the government to identify and understand where improvements can be made to the system.

CRA has looked at the areas identified in the report and has developed an action plan that will be put in place before year end.

Tax EvasionOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Carrier Bloc Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, Revenue Canada's report indicates that the criminal economy is depriving the federal treasury of billions of dollars in untaxed income.

In this income tax season, the time when the government requires every taxpayer to do his or her part, how does the government explain the fact that a lack of resources and organizational problems are still hindering a crack down on tax evaders?

Tax EvasionOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Fredericton New Brunswick

Conservative

Keith Ashfield ConservativeMinister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, Canada's tax system is based on voluntary compliance and self-assessment. It needs to be noted that most Canadian taxpayers do pay their taxes on time.

Our government will take the necessary measures to ensure that this law is abided by. Wilful failure to follow tax laws will result in serious consequences and serious penalties.