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House of Commons Hansard #138 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was senators.

Topics

CinarOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the government realizes that this matter is before the court as we speak.

The hon. member would be the first one, if we started pronouncing on these matters, to say we are interfering with the judicial process in this country. There is a decision within this matter and the matter should take its course.

Tax HavensOral Questions

March 3rd, 2011 / 2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister is mistaken. This matter is not before the courts. The matter that should be before the courts is not, because the Liberals, like the Conservatives, never wanted to take care of the Cinar affair.

The federal government's complacency when it comes to tax havens allowed these white collar criminals to illegally transfer $120 million to the Bahamas. By signing a tax convention with the Bahamas, a known tax haven, in 2010, the Conservatives did nothing to prevent fraud from being committed against small investors in the future.

While the rest of the world is taking action against tax havens, why are the Conservatives protecting them?

Tax HavensOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Fredericton New Brunswick

Conservative

Keith Ashfield ConservativeMinister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister and the government have taken decisive action to give CRA the tools and resources it needs to aggressively pursue those Canadians who avoid paying their taxes.

This includes important measures contained in budget 2010 to close tax loopholes, and the inclusion of proceeds of crime legislation in the Criminal Code. We expect CRA to focus on aggressive audit efforts to find money that is hiding in offshore accounts.

Tax HavensOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, even though an international warrant has been issued for his arrest, former dictator Ben Ali's brother-in-law continues doing business in Montreal, as though nothing happened. Every hour that passes allows him to transfer millions of dollars to tax havens. Although we support Bill C-61, it is not necessary in order for the government to take immediate action under the UN convention against corruption and under Canada's Criminal Code. It can immediately freeze the assets of the entire Ben Ali family.

Why are the Conservatives continuing to protect them and refusing to take immediate action?

Tax HavensOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Pontiac Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, on the contrary. I would like to thank the opposition, and particularly the Bloc Québécois, for its support for the legislation we introduced in the House this morning. The sooner this legislation receives royal assent, the sooner we can act.

Political FinancingOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, no one is above the law. No one can defend their actions by claiming ignorance of the law. The in and out scheme is illegal, and that is clear to everyone. The Conservative party cheated. The Prime Minister is keeping the people who organized that cheating on his team. The Prime Minister is ultimately accountable for that cheating.

When will the government admit that it cheated?

Political FinancingOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the reason we will continue to press our case in court is that Conservative candidates spent Conservative funds on Conservative advertising. The national party, indeed, did transfer funds to local campaigns, which, of course, is a legal practice. Elections Canada became aware precisely because we told it.

We will continue in this spirit of transparency. We will vigorously defend our actions, which have been in accordance with the rules, the laws, and the highest standards of ethics from the very beginning.

Political FinancingOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, they transferred Conservative funds to break the rules on election spending limits. That is what happened.

The irony, of course, is that the Conservatives let this scandal happen in an election in which they were running against a Liberal scandal, the infamous sponsorship scandal. Imagine that, moving money in and out to go after the Liberal government that was playing fast and loose with money. No wonder Canadians think something is broken up here.

Yet this Prime Minister is still standing behind his actions. He says they have done nothing wrong. Why are these senators still in their caucus?

Political FinancingOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the reason that we continue to pursue our case in a court of law is that the Conservative Party followed all the rules. It is true that Conservative candidates spent Conservative funds on Conservative advertising. It is also true that the national party transferred funds to local campaigns.

The reason Elections Canada knows all of that, the reason it is aware of all of these transactions, is precisely because we made it aware by volunteering the information in a transparent manner many years ago. We will continue to press our case.

Political FinancingOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government is already on the ropes. We have asked the government to keep its cheating senators out of its caucus and then today we find out that the minister of immigration is using government resources to solicit money for Conservative ads on parliamentary letterhead.

When are the Conservatives going to learn their lesson? When are they going to clean up their act? Why is the immigration minister using parliamentary resources to raise money for the Conservative Party?

Political FinancingOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the immigration minister in this government has done a superb job of reaching out to and building a strengthened system for Canada's newcomers. We cut the immigration landing fee. We have allowed a record number of new Canadians to come into this country. We have stood strongly in favour of protecting those who were in need of refugee assistance. We have delivered record aid to those people who are coming to this country from abroad.

We are very proud of our immigration minister and we stand beside him 100%.

Political FinancingOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have to wonder about the integrity and sense of ministerial responsibility of some of the members in the first row opposite. I believe that the Minister of Foreign Affairs was the chief organizer for the Conservatives in Quebec when they dreamed up their electoral fraud.

Could he explain what the $10,126.18 was used for in his riding of Pontiac and could he tell us how much of that was reimbursed by Canadian taxpayers?

Political FinancingOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I notice that the Liberal Party, in fact all of the coalition parties, has asked absolutely nothing about the number one issue in the country, which is jobs for Canadians. That is because, under our economic action plan, we have created 460,000 brand new jobs. We have the smallest deficit in the G7. Five million Canadians have invested in the tax free savings account, helping them to prepare for their future. Unemployment is two points lower than in the United States for the first time in a generation. We have had six consecutive quarters of growth. That is something to celebrate.

Political FinancingOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to advise the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister that the scheme is not an administrative dispute. It was a well-administered fraud. It is not an accounting disagreement. It was a deliberate attempt to break the law. There is no misinterpretation. The Conservatives knew the rules and then broke them.

In the GTA alone, hundreds of thousands of dollars went in and out of ridings in a matter of seconds. Davenport, Vaughan, Scarborough Centre, almost $100,000 worth of fraud in just those three ridings.

Did his boss really think they would get away with this?

Political FinancingOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the issue at stake is that the Conservative candidates spent Conservative funds on Conservative advertising.

The national party did indeed transfer funds to local campaigns. The reason Elections Canada knows it is because we told it about it. Why would we not? It is legal, it is ethical and it is common practice among all parties. That is precisely why we will continue to press our case.

Political FinancingOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Gerry Byrne Liberal Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte, NL

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of National Defence, the government's political minister for Newfoundland.

In the Conservatives in and out Ponzi scheme, $32,000 was funnelled in and out of the bank accounts of four Tory candidates running in rural Newfoundland. Newfoundland is a small enough place that if $32,000 worth of advertising were to be run, we would notice it, but the Conservative Party campaign did not run a single ad in any of those ridings.

Knowing that the money was actually laundered off to the mainland, with no local benefit to any candidate, what kind of a Ponzi scheme is this?

Political FinancingOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member's overheated rhetoric and mistaken facts notwithstanding, I would simply remind him that we are talking about a five-year-old administrative dispute. We continue to take our case forward, because Conservative candidates spent Conservative funds on Conservative advertising. They did so in total accordance with the rules.

We stood for the right things. We followed all the proper procedures, and we will continue to defend our case in court.

Political FinancingOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, if it is an administrative dispute, I guess all four of them will go to an administrative prison. That is how it looks.

With respect to what we have seen over the last few days, it is really quite remarkable. There are cabinet ministers in the front two rows, not a single one of them prepared to answer a question on this, all affected by the crisis, all affected by the mistake, all affected by the fraud.

Where is the transparency? Where is the accountability? Why will not a single cabinet minister answer a question on this issue?

Political FinancingOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, still not a single question from the Liberals on jobs for Canadians. Here we are in the middle of a fragile economic recovery, with troubles around the world.

Our government focused on the economic action plan: 460,000 jobs; unemployment two points lower than in the United States; six consecutive quarters of economic growth; tax free savings accounts helping five millions Canadians prepare for the future.

Why will the Liberals not join with us in building up the country rather than trying to tear—

Political FinancingOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Beauharnois—Salaberry.

Political FinancingOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Claude DeBellefeuille Bloc Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, one former Conservative candidate refused to participate in the Conservatives' 2006 election fraud. He is a lawyer who quickly realized that it was an illegal manoeuvre. The director of public prosecutions, who has charged four organizers, maintains that the Conservatives made false and misleading declarations.

How can the Prime Minister claim to be lily-white when the Chief Electoral Officer, the Commissioner of Canada Elections, the director of public prosecutions and former Conservative candidates maintain that the party deliberately violated the Canada Elections Act?

Political FinancingOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I believe I mentioned that Conservative candidates spent Conservative money on Conservative advertising. It is true that the party transferred funds to local candidates. Elections Canada knows this because we told them. Why not? It is legal, it is ethical and it is a practice used by all parties. Therefore, we will continue to defend our case in the courts.

Political FinancingOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Claude DeBellefeuille Bloc Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary is telling half-truths. The Chief Electoral Officer had to conduct a search and seizure to get the documents. They were not handed over voluntarily.

The current president of the National Citizens Coalition believes that the Conservative Party is the victim of a vendetta. When the current Prime Minister was the president of this group that fiercely battled Bill 101, he tried to eliminate limits on election expenses.

By refusing to admit that his party contravened the Elections Act in 2006, is the Prime Minister not confirming that he is continuing his ideological battle to weaken the election rules necessary in a democracy?

Political FinancingOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, first of all, in a non-partisan spirit, I would like to start by giving credit to the Bloc Québécois, which invented the in and out scheme. I believe that the Bloc is too modest, and probably should be. The leader of the Bloc, who invented this practice years ago, is truly the father of the in and out scheme.

Quebec City ArenaOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, although they donned Nordiques jerseys at a highly publicized event, the Conservatives never had any intention of contributing funds to help build a multi-purpose arena in Quebec City. As usual, they created expectations and made promises in veiled terms, but when the time came to keep them, they ducked out.

How could the minister responsible for the Quebec City region put on a Nordiques jersey and suggest for months that her government would contribute to the arena project, when it never had any intention of becoming financially involved?