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House of Commons Hansard #143 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was conservative.

Topics

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I would also draw the attention of hon. members to the presence in the gallery of a recipient of the John Diefenbaker Defender of Human Rights and Freedom Award, the Reverend Benjamin H. Yoon, founder and chairman of the Citizens' Alliance for North Korean Human Rights.

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, could the government House leader inform us of the government's plans for the business of the House for the remainder of this week, as well as the week of March 21.

Mr. Speaker, given the extremely serious nature of your rulings yesterday, could the House leader confirm that the government will fully comply with the rulings? Will he pledge that the Conservative members on the Procedure and House Affairs Committee will try not to disrupt or filibuster the work of the committee? Very specifically, will he tell us when we can expect to receive all of the documents that the House has ordered the government to turn over?

In the case of the motion relating to the costs on F-35 fighter jets, corporate tax cuts and the government's law and order agenda, it is important for Canadians to know and to remember that the original request for this information and these financial details was made on November 17, many months ago. We are now in a situation where there is simply no justification for any further delays.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, with respect to your ruling yesterday, we are working right now as we speak to comply on that issue and we will be responding in short order.

We will continue debate today on the Bloc opposition motion that began this morning.

Tomorrow, we will call for third reading of Bill C-55, the new veterans charter bill. I appreciate that there has been support for the passage of that bill. It is important for Canada's veterans and I am pleased that we have been able to come together on that.

Following Bill C-55, if time permits, we would debate Bill C-54, protecting children from sexual predators; Bill S-7, the justice for victims of terrorism; Bill C-8, the Canada-Jordan free trade agreement; Bill C-12, the democratic representation bill, which is an important bill for my premier in Ontario and particularly for the people in both Alberta and British Columbia; Bill C-46, the Canada-Panama free trade agreement; Bill C-57, improving trade within Canada; Bill C-43, RCMP modernization; Bill C-52, investigating and preventing criminal electronic communications; and Bill C-50, improving access to investigative tools for serious crime.

With respect to the business for next week, I will be, among other places, working hard in my constituency for the people of Ottawa West--Nepean.

Sit-in at Hill Office of Indian Affairs MinisterPrivilegeOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Vancouver Island North B.C.

Conservative

John Duncan ConservativeMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on a question of privilege in regard to a disturbing event that took place yesterday in my office at the Confederation Building.

The stunt was orchestrated by the NDP member for Churchill. It was what I would call a very serious breach of trust among those of us in the House and a breach of privilege because the employees in my office were prevented from doing their work. It is a cause for concern for even members of the other place.

With a number of media outlets and their cameras in tow, the NDP member of Parliament helped orchestrate a protest and sit-in in my office. While her guests occupied my office, she pressed my staff for an immediate meeting and played up this shocking incident for the cameras.

Not for one minute am I attempting to minimize the concerns of those people who occupied my office. I understand their concerns and my staff has indicated that we will work with them. However, I am truly troubled that a member of this House would orchestrate the takeover of another member's office and make a member's staff uncomfortable as a result of this breach.

Security was eventually called to help clear out the office without incident but, frankly, there is no assurance that such a stunt will not happen again in my office or in any other member's office in this place or in the other place.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask that you to look into this serious matter from a security standpoint, as well as a privilege standpoint for members. It was wrong, it was a violation of my office and my staff, and I do not think the member would think twice about doing it again.

One month ago, the same member asked me for a meeting. She received a one hour meeting within short order. I thought we had established a relationship.

This is the first time in my 15 years in this place that I have ever been subject to such an incident. The behaviour of the NDP member for Churchill is not worthy of an elected member of Parliament.

Sit-in at Hill Office of Indian Affairs MinisterPrivilegeOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I do not want to comment on the particular activities, because I was not there, but I want the House to know that the Indian band in question was taken from its town by the federal government and dropped on the shores of Hudson Bay with no place to live. I think they are pretty upset with the government and would like to meet with the minister.

Sit-in at Hill Office of Indian Affairs MinisterPrivilegeOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I think we will leave this matter. I will take the incident under advisement. I expect we may be hearing from some other member later and we will deal with that later. I will get back to the House in due course in respect of this one.

Sit-in at Hill Office of Indian Affairs MinisterPrivilegeOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, in view of the events in the National Hockey League in relation to the Chara-Pacioretty incident, for example, and what is happening with Sidney Crosby, I would ask for the unanimous consent of the House to move the following motion: that the House condemn the National Hockey League for not taking action to crack down on unnecessary, dangerous physical play that occurs during games and that jeopardizes the health of NHL players, and call on league managers and the players’ association to take action to put a stop to this scourge.

Enough is enough.

Sit-in at Hill Office of Indian Affairs MinisterPrivilegeOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Does the hon. member for Bourassa have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?

Sit-in at Hill Office of Indian Affairs MinisterPrivilegeOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

March 10th, 2011 / 3:15 p.m.

NDP

John Rafferty NDP Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on an issue arising out of question period today.

A government member asked the Minister of Industry a question and I was very disappointed with his answer. On top of that, I believe the Minister of Industry misled the House with his answer when he neglected to say that Bill C-501 would protect every worker in this country.

I believe the Minister of Industry should be making an apology to workers right across Canada. In fact, he should be apologizing to the people who worked for Buchanan Forest Products in my riding, many of whom received no severance pay, no termination pay, pensions or anything of the kind.

If you look at the blues, Mr. Speaker, you will find that his answer was purely intended to mislead the House and Canadians.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The Chair does not get in on the questions or responses and decide whether the matters are facts or not. It is simply beyond the Chair's competence to make that kind of decision. I think the hon. member is really getting into a debate here rather than a point of order. It does not strike me as being a procedural matter, which of course is what the Speaker is here to decide upon, not the other. I do not think there was a valid point of order there.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Before question period, the hon. member for Brossard—La Prairie had the floor. She still has 16 minutes for her remarks.

The hon. member for Brossard—La Prairie.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Alexandra Mendes Liberal Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I had reached the fifth point in my list of government breaches of parliamentary privilege. We were talking in particular about a “very ethnic” fundraising letter from the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism.

The minister was caught red-handed using public resources to market a Conservative advertising campaign targeting what he called “very ethnic” ridings. The minister has been denounced for the serious conflict of interest between his responsibility to develop fair policies as the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism and his political job of delivering the votes of new Canadians. In addition to the conflict of interest, his description of ridings as “very ethnic” raises much doubt about the Conservatives’ respect for new Canadians.

I want to turn now to the departure of Christiane Ouimet and the gag order on her. After the independent Public Service Integrity Commissioner resigned in disgrace for sweeping aside 228 whistleblower complaints, this Conservative regime gave her more than $500,000 in severance pay and made her sign a gag order. Canadians deserve to know what role the Prime Minister's Office and the Privy Council Office played in rejecting embarrassing whistleblower cases without an investigation.

Moving along to the dishonesty of the Minister of International Cooperation, over 24,000 people have signed a petition calling for her to resign after she misled Parliament about falsifying a ministerial document. Even though she faces censure for breaching parliamentary privilege, the minister refuses to step down or answer very specific questions about her conduct. Instead of saying this dishonesty has no place in Parliament, the Prime Minister continues to shield and even applaud her.

The Minister of International Cooperation breached a basic principle of our democratic system by straight-out misleading Canadians about the falsified documents. In any other line of work, she would have been fired. The Prime Minister should immediately relieve her of her position. Continuing to protect her is totally unacceptable.

My colleague, the hon. member for Scarborough—Guildwood, has referred the question to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs so that it can recommend an appropriate sanction and report to the House on the question before March 25.

“Own the Podium”, in the most literal sense: after the prime minister’s speech at the celebration of the Year of India event, the Prime Minister’s Office tried to muzzle the leader of the opposition by removing the podium and ushering the journalists present out of the room before his speech. In the end, it was the Prime Minister who was embarrassed for misusing government resources and treating Canada’s ethnic communities like mere pawns on the political chessboard.

Now let us talk about the obscurantism of government documents relating to the arena in Quebec City. The Conservative regime is so afraid of negative political fallout over the Quebec City arena proposal that it is treating the debate on this issue like a matter of national security. It has censored the background information on its position on funding an NHL-calibre arena in Quebec City.

The hon. member for Calgary—Nose Hill has also breached the code of ethics. Before she was questioned on this specific subject in the House of Commons, the Conservative minister from Calgary—Nose Hill did not know that she had been fined by the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner for “failure to disclose a material change” and she was cited for failing to pay the fine. The member is the third minister of this government and the tenth Conservative public office holder to be fined by the commissioner, joining previous wrongdoers such as the defence minister.

Now let us move to the attack on public servants over the F-35s. The recent attack by the Conservative member for Edmonton Centre on the highly respected former deputy minister of defence, Mr. Alan Williams, shows that the Conservatives can only resort to name calling when it comes to justifying their $29 billion untendered fighter jet purchase.

The facts speak for themselves. On the weekend the media reported that the Conservatives have no legitimate argument to support their claims about the purchase and maintenance costs of the F-35s.

Canadians are seeing this government in its true light. The Conservatives have abused their power and damaged our democracy. They have demonstrated nothing but contempt for Parliament and for Canadians. They are out of touch with the priorities of middle-class families.

In the interest of clarity, here are just the facts in the other official language, including 10 instances of Conservative regime recent abuses of power. The Conservative regime's culture of secrecy and deceit is adding up and as official opposition, it is our duty to bring light to these issues.

With respect to hiding corporate taxes, megaprison and F-35 costs, the Conservative regime failed to comply with the motion demanding that by March 7 it provide the House of Commons with details concerning its plans to spend billions of tax dollars on corporate tax cuts, prison expansions and untendered stealth fighters.

Hiding these costs undermines the credibility of the entire budget. We need answers on these matters before the budget is tabled. The member for Kings—Hants has referred to the matter to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs and is demanding that it report back to the House by March 21.

With respect to the in and out election fraud, the Prime Minister's inner circle stands accused of a $1.2 million scam to break election spending limits and buy more attack ads than those permitted. Senior Conservatives wired money in to local campaigns and transferred the money right back out to the national campaign. Now they face serious charges involving potential jail time.

When candidates claimed the transfers to get $800,000 more than allowed by Elections Canada, it stepped in.

The Prime Minister is using public resources for partisan purposes by forcing federal public servants to replace the words “Government of Canada” with the “H Government”. Canadians know it is not the Prime Minister's government. It belongs to all citizens.

With respect to the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism's very ethic fundraising letter, the insulting nature of the very ethnic definition by and of itself is a matter for concern. Furthermore, the citizenship and immigration minister was caught using public resources for polling and marketing a Conservative advertising campaign aimed at what he called “very ethic ridings”. The minister has been exposed for serious conflict of interest between his responsibility to make fair policies as the citizenship and immigration minister and his political role of delivering the votes of new Canadians.

With respect to Christiane Ouimet's gag order and severance pay, after the independent public service integrity commissioner resigned in disgrace for sweeping aside 228 whistleblower complaints, the Conservative regime paid her more than $500,000 and made her sign a gag order. Canadians deserve to know what role the Prime Minister Office's and the Privy Council Office's had in influencing the dismissal of embarrassing whistleblower cases, involving all sorts of misuse of government resources.

With respect to the Minister of International Cooperation's dishonesty, over 24,000 people signed a petition calling for the international cooperation minister to resign after she misled Parliament about ordering a ministerial document to be falsified. Even though she faces censure for breaching parliamentary privilege, the minister refuses to step down or answer questions about her conduct. Instead of saying this dishonesty has no place in Parliament, the Prime Minister continues to shield her and even applauds his minister.

The Minister of International Cooperation has breached the privileges of our democratic system by blatantly misleading Canadians about forging documents. In any other job, this would get someone fired. The Prime Minister should immediately fire her from cabinet. This is unacceptable.

My colleague, the MP for Scarborough—Guildwood, has referred the matter to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to recommend the appropriate punishment and is demanding that they report back to the House by March 25.

With respect to “own the podium”, after the Prime Minister spoke at the celebration of the year of India event, the Prime Minister's office tried to muzzle the Leader of the Opposition by removing the podium and ushering the media out of the room before his speech. In the end, it was the Prime Minister who was embarrassed for misusing government resources and treating Canada's ethnic communities like mere political pawns.

With respect to the Quebec City arena documents, the Conservative regime is so afraid of political fallout over the Quebec City arena proposal that it is treating the debate like a national security threat, after blacking out background documents that would have made our position clear on the funding, or not, of this NHL-calibre arena in Quebec City.

Regarding the member for Calgary—Nose Hill's ethics breach, until she was questioned about it in the House of Commons, she had no idea that she had been fined by the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner and cited for failing to pay the fine. The member is the third Conservative minister and the 10th Conservative public office holder overall to be fined by the commissioner, joining previous wrongdoers like the Minister of National Defence.

With respect to lashing out at public servants on F-35s, the Conservative MP for Edmonton Centre's recent attack on the respected former assistant deputy minister of defence, Alan Williams, shows that the Conservatives can only resort to name calling when it comes to justifying their $16 billion, or should I say $29 billion, untendered fighter jet purchase. A media report over the weekend also indicated that the Conservatives did not have a leg to stand on when it came to backing up their claims on the purchase or maintenance costs of the F-35s.

Furthermore, the Parliamentary Budget Officer confirmed this morning that all estimates so far provided by the Conservative government were totally out of synch with reality.

Canadians are seeing the government for what it really is. The Conservatives have abused their power, attacked our democracy and have showed nothing but contempt for Parliament and the Canadian people. They have lost touch with the priorities of middle-class families, which is why I will vote in support of the motion from the Bloc Québécois.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, I listened intently to the comments of the hon. member from the other side of the House.

I find it quite humorous that the Liberals think they have moral rights and that they, in particular, have no responsibilities. Under their former prime minister, Mr. Chrétien, they, with their minions, developed a thing called the “adscam”. Through that convoluted process, they happened to steal millions of dollars from the Canadian taxpayers, and have only repaid $1 million at this point in time. They funnelled that money into 13 Liberal ridings in Quebec.

My question for the Liberal Party is this. What government resources did it use at the time it was stealing the more than $40 million? Did it use government brown envelopes to distribute the cash that we know was distributed to the various Liberal ridings in Quebec?

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Alexandra Mendes Liberal Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I find it curious that my colleagues on the Conservative side have very selective memories.

First, may I remind the member that a Liberal government called a public inquiry into the supposed adscam. It was a program that the Liberals had created. We paid back every penny that Justice Gomery asked us to pay.

Everything that the Gomery commission accused us of allegedly misappropriating in that matter has been paid back to Canadian taxpayers. But the present matter has nothing to do with the misappropriation of funds that happened 10 years ago. We are talking about what has just happened, about a government that promised, during the same campaign when it misappropriated all these funds, that it would be the purest and cleanest government that there ever was in Canada. That is what is offensive. It was a government full of promises.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to seek the opinion of my colleague from Brossard—La Prairie, since there is some recognition in what she has said of facts in the past involving the Liberals. This is not the subject of the debate, although we might make it the subject of the debate and draw a parallel. I think we would be happy to do that.

I believe we have to get to the heart of the matter. What is in issue today is the mistakes made by the party now in power. One of those mistakes is to identify the Canadian government as its own property, as its own personality—to the point that the Premier Ministre has named it after himself: “Preparation H”, or rather “the H Government”. Forgive me, because there is a similarity between the two when it comes to how they might be used.

This personalization is precisely the subject of my question. Does my colleague not think there is something here that is not just offensive, but flatly contemptuous of Canadian institutions and the Canadian people?

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Alexandra Mendes Liberal Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

It is contemptuous, but more importantly it is disturbing. My reaction when I heard that last Thursday was to ask myself what country we were living in. Since when does the Office of the Prime Minister appropriate the name of the government of the country as its own fiefdom? That is what is extremely troubling.

The Government of Canada certainly belongs to all Canadians. It is much more than one person, much more than a Cabinet. The Government of Canada is all of our democratic institutions. I think that journalists or even some of our ministers may use the name of the Prime Minister when referring to the government. That was never an order or a directive from the Office of the Prime Minister when there were Liberal or even Progressive Conservative prime ministers. No prime minister has ever publicly told the federal public service to call the federal government by his name. Frankly, that is truly unacceptable for a country like Canada.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, people back home really need to understand the extent of this scheme and the collusion. In and out is basically a money laundering scheme, where the Conservatives took money from the central campaign, laundered it through the accounts of dead dog ridings and then took the money back to pay for national advertising for which they were not eligible.

The Conservatives are trying to proclaim their innocence, but the jails are full of guys who say that it was administrative error when they got caught. The issue that people need to understand is there were kickbacks offered to the ridings so the ridings would claim money they did not deserve and ask taxpayers for money to which they were not entitled.

I have to be fair. Some riding associations were honest and refused to participate, but all across Canada rural and backwoods Conservative riding associations signed up for this scheme, which was essentially a money laundering scheme. We see the ones who are charged at the top, but what about the ranks of the Conservative Party who were involved in this scheme?

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Alexandra Mendes Liberal Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I do not have precise answers for the questions of my colleague because I do not fully understand the whole dimension of the problem myself. However, it is definitely reasonable to believe that this affected much more than only what we see as the in and out scheme.

I do not know how all the transactions were made. That is why Elections Canada is investigating and why this has gone to the courts. However, there is definitely cause for concern about whether the different echelons of the Conservative Party were involved.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, it is an egregious way of trying to circumvent a particular rule when a certain amount of money is raised by a local association, somewhere in the vicinity of $5,000 to $10,000, and all of a sudden it qualifies itself for something twice that amount because the money went into a particular association and came back out. What is particularly egregious about this is there is all kinds of rhetoric being thrown around the House about money in and money out, but this one is so glaringly obvious.

On the news we saw visits to the Conservatives Party headquarters time and time again. I have yet to see visits to any other party's headquarters in the media. Why is that?

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Alexandra Mendes Liberal Brossard—La Prairie, QC

If I may, I am going to answer in French. It is important that this be clear.

The enormous difference between the doubts or questions raised about the Liberal Party a few years ago and the visits to the Conservative Party office by the various authorities, whether the RCMP or Elections Canada, is that the Liberal Party took the initiative of holding that commission of inquiry where the documents and evidence were submitted voluntarily. What the Conservatives have shown us since the beginning of this whole thing, since 2006, is that their hand has to be forced. They are not capable of admitting their mistakes, of admitting that they have made major mistakes, and they have forced us to go to these extremes.

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Storseth Conservative Westlock—St. Paul, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is clear that the hon. member needs to get her facts straight on a couple of things.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer's numbers on the F-35 are based on 30 years. Our numbers are based on 20 years. I am not an expert, but I can tell members that 30 years versus 20 years is going to ramp up the cost.

There are two points about this F-35 program to consider. One, this is about jobs. This is about jobs in B.C., Alberta, Winnipeg, and Montreal. I do not know how in this economic downturn the members on the other side can be against that.

The other aspect of this is safety. We have five years left before the CF-18s cannot fly any more. They will hit their maximum number of hours. At the end of the day, this is not just about costs. It is about the safety of the men and women of the Canadian Forces who risk their lives every day for us.

I would like to ask the member, what is an acceptable cost of that safety?

Opposition motion—Conduct of the GovernmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Alexandra Mendes Liberal Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will start by acknowledging that I do not think my hon. colleague is an expert on the matter. I will just say that there are a lot of other planes that our air force could use and should use. We do not need stealth airplanes. Canada is a peaceful country. We certainly do not need those kinds of planes.