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House of Commons Hansard #146 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-12.

Topics

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, no government in the history of Canada has come this close to being found in contempt of Parliament. Why? Because over four months it refused to tell Parliament the true costs of its choices on prisons, jets and corporate tax breaks.

Now the question becomes this. With a budget a couple of hours away, how can we trust its numbers and how we can trust a budget when we cannot trust the government?

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, all the additional information given to the committee last week indicated that all the core information had been available all along. The numbers have been absolutely true and correct.

The Leader of the Opposition is simply trying to seek reasons to manufacture a coalition among himself, the NDP and the Bloc Québécois. The fact is our focus is the economy. That is what Canadians want us to focus on and that is what he should focus on.

Champlain BridgeOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, we know the budget priorities of the Conservatives: fighter jets for the forces and megaprisons. They have billions of dollars available for those purposes. Money is no object. Meanwhile, since the Conservatives took office, the number of troubling reports on the deterioration of the Champlain Bridge has been increasing.

Did it not occur to members opposite that, if there had been a tendering process for the F-35, we could have saved a few billions of dollars and done more than just patching up the bridge and in fact build a new one?

Champlain BridgeOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon B.C.

Conservative

Chuck Strahl ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, our government made a clear commitment with respect to the Champlain Bridge. That is why we invested a lot of money in that corridor.

I want to tell the House that no compromise will be made regarding the safety of the Champlain Bridge and the thousands of people who cross it daily. I am also pleased to inform the hon. member that, yesterday, we tabled a letter from the Federal Bridge Corporation in the House, confirming that the Champlain Bridge is safe. It is still safe.

Champlain BridgeOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, I did not put a question to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food about crumbs to fix potholes, but rather about people's safety, about getting the straight goods. We do not want a letter, we want tests. That is the problem. I did not hear anyone challenge the experts who said there are problems and related risks, to the point where the Champlain Bridge should be replaced with a new structure. They said that some part or a span of the bridge could collapse. Every day, 7,000 vehicles cross that bridge.

The clock is ticking. What is the government waiting for to build a new bridge? Does it not prefer that option, rather than being taken to court for criminal negligence?

Champlain BridgeOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon B.C.

Conservative

Chuck Strahl ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food does not agree with the hon. member.

It is inappropriate to talk about a new bridge until the final feasibility study on the future of the Champlain Bridge has been received. Once we have received that study, we will look at the findings and we will consider all the options, including replacing the Champlain Bridge.

EthicsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's attitude towards the issues of his former deputy chief of staff, Bruce Carson, is worrying at best. Not only did Carson act as a lobbyist when it was illegal for him to do so, but he did so in order to obtain a contract for his girlfriend, an escort. The most surprising part was learning that Mr. Carson had been disbarred for embezzlement and sentenced to prison.

Will this Prime Minister, who loves to be in control, admit that he made a terrible error in judgment by appointing Bruce Carson to an important position within his office?

EthicsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, he is talking about the goings-on in a person's private life. There is nothing to indicate that a government contract or government money is implicated in this affair. We have instituted very strong rules and it is clear that they will be enforced.

EthicsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is the height of hypocrisy. He says they have instituted strong rules. But after the Prime Minister appointed someone to his office who made important decisions, someone who had been disbarred, someone who was sentenced to a prison term, how can he stand here today and say that there are strong rules? If those are strong rules, I would like to see lax ones.

EthicsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the rules are clearly strong ones. That is why no government contract or money is involved in this affair. That is the reality. We established rules. And we were the ones who reported this incident. We are determined to ensure that the rules are followed.

Access to InformationOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Freeman Bloc Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Mr. Speaker, in a damning report, the Information Commissioner has found the office of the former public works minister guilty of political obstruction and interference under the Access to Information Act. Her finding was unequivocal: the minister's political office tried to block the disclosure of an embarrassing document. The file has been referred to the RCMP.

How does the current Minister of Natural Resources expect us to believe that he did not sanction this illegal activity, when obstruction and political interference were common within his office?

Access to InformationOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Edmonton—Spruce Grove Alberta

Conservative

Rona Ambrose ConservativeMinister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, when I received the Information Commissioner's report in February, I immediately asked the department to implement all of her recommendations, and they have been all fully implemented.

Access to InformationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Freeman Bloc Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Mr. Speaker, on another issue, the Information Commissioner found that the Privy Council Office violated the Access to Information Act by obstructing a Canadian Press journalist who was trying to obtain documents on the listeriosis crisis.

If the Prime Minister will let his own department show such contempt for the law, why should we be surprised that obstruction, political interference and secrecy are so rampant within the Conservative government?

Access to InformationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Mr. Speaker, the rules are very clear when it comes to situations with a potential for interference. In fact, it was our government that put those rules in place and clarified them. We expect all employees to respect those rules.

EthicsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, Bruce Carson, an adviser to the Prime Minister, knew everything about lobbying laws. He knew all about the loopholes, the same loopholes the NDP tried to close, loopholes the Conservatives would not close. Now we know why. The Federal Accountability Act was just for show. Former government officials, right out of the PMO, are still able to sell their services to people looking for access to power, despite the five-year ban.

When will the Conservatives close the loopholes and prevent another Carson from doing the same?

EthicsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, as a matter of first priority, this government brought in the Federal Accountability Act that got tough on people who leave government for five years. The law is very clear.

When issues arose with respect to one individual, we did the responsible thing. We immediately referred the matter, not just to the RCMP and to the Ethics Commissioner but also to the Commissioner of Lobbying.

Let me be very clear. Those who break the law should face the full force of law.

EthicsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, Bruce Carson was out there selling access to government to the environment minister, to the Indian affairs minister using his girlfriend as a front. The truth is that the Conservatives would never have called the police if it had not have been for the work of the APTN. Bruce Carson would have kept right on doing it if he had not been caught out.

How can the Conservatives still tolerate these loopholes in their Federal Accountability Act?

EthicsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the fingerprints of the NDP members were all over that act. They unanimously supported the act.

Some very serious allegations were brought to the attention of the government. We did the responsible thing and immediately referred the matter to the relevant authorities.

Rather than letting the member for Vancouver East be judge, jury and trial lawyer, we will let the police and the courts deal with the matter.

EthicsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, the ethical problems of this government are very serious. We have not seen anything like it since Paul Martin's Liberals.

The Conservatives are accused of contempt of Parliament. The RCMP is investigating two former advisors. The Minister of Immigration is fundraising with all the weight of his office. Documents are altered by hand by a minister's staff. There is also the in and out scheme to circumvent election laws.

Can there be any explanation other than the fact that the Conservatives have been corrupted by power?

EthicsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I do not think it will come as a surprise to any member of the House that I completely reject the premise of the hon. member's question.

It is this government who has been focused like no other on jobs, on the economy and on our low tax plan to help Canadian families. We have come very far over the past few years. The 480,000 net new jobs is nothing more than a good start.

The Minister of Finance will present the next phase of Canada's economic action plan in the next few hours.

EthicsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Todd Russell Liberal Labrador, NL

Mr. Speaker, on March 21, the Indian affairs minister announced his supposed plan to address water safety in first nations communities. The announcement was full of self-praise. It was announced in 2006, five years ago, long enough for the Prime Minister's former chief of staff, Bruce Carson, to come up with a scheme to cash in on the water woes of first nations communities.

Selling water filters or selling access to power, it was all just business as usual, but this time for the Prime Minister's right-hand man.

How far does this rot go?

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, what we are talking about are the actions of a private citizen. There is no indication whatsoever that the individual received any grant or any favour from the government.

Any individual who does not respect the tough new laws that this government has put in place should face the full force of law. When it was brought to our attention, we immediately forwarded the matter to the relevant authorities. That was the responsible thing to do.

EthicsOral Questions

March 22nd, 2011 / 2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Todd Russell Liberal Labrador, NL

Mr. Speaker, first nations communities are suffering from poor water quality and need action, not Conservative insiders hawking their wares, not Conservative insiders breaking the Conservatives' own lobbying rules and not a half decade of Conservative inaction.

How can the Prime Minister or anybody on that side expect us to believe they did not know what Bruce Carson was up to? How could the Prime Minister and his ministers turn a blind eye to this serial scam artist who tries to profit off the backs of aboriginal people?

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is making some rather outrageous claims. If he has any information to back up what he has said, he should table it in the House. If he refuses to, I would ask the hon. member what he has to hide.

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Raymonde Folco Liberal Laval—Les Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, in addition to the Conservatives' electoral fraud, the RCMP is now investigating Bruce Carson, the Prime Minister's former chief of staff.

How can a man who was disbarred as a lawyer and imprisoned for fraud become the Prime Minister's chief of staff?

The Minister of the Environment allegedly discussed files pertaining to safe drinking water for aboriginal communities with Mr. Carson in violation of lobbying laws.

Was the Minister of the Environment also reported to the RCMP?