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House of Commons Hansard #13 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was businesses.

Topics

HealthOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Nunavut Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq ConservativeMinister of Health and Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

Mr. Speaker, in addition to over 30% increases to transfer payments made to the provinces and territories for the delivery of health care, our government also provided additional funding, about $1 billion, for the reduction of wait times in their chosen areas.

We continue to work collaboratively with the provinces and the territories to roll out the present health accord and to continue to reduce wait times, while respecting the fact that health care is an area of provincial jurisdiction.

HealthOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, blaming the provinces is no answer. This is a joint responsibility. There is no question that the current system is costly and inefficient.

Our public health care system must move forward now to fit today's model of community care. We cannot wait until 2014. We need a long-term care strategy to free up hospital beds and support those with chronic health concerns.

How long do we have to wait before the government takes meaningful action to address these critical shortages?

HealthOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Nunavut Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq ConservativeMinister of Health and Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

Mr. Speaker, our government has worked hard to protect and promote the health and safety of Canadians. In addition to our commitment to continue transfers of 6% to the provinces and territories, we made additional investments in pandemic preparedness, medical and neurological research, food and product safety, wait times, electronic health records, and aboriginal health.

We have also passed the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act, Cracking Down on Tobacco Marketing Aimed at Youth Act, and the Human Pathogens and Toxins Act. We continue to work with the provinces and territories.

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not think the House has really heard, yet, an answer to a very simple question from the Prime Minister with respect to the Muskoka slush fund.

I wonder whether the Prime Minister could explain to the House why it is that there was no paper record kept of the discussions which led to the decisions and why it is that public servants were kept away from those discussions.

These are both findings of the Auditor General. They are not my conclusions or anyone else's.

Could the Prime Minister please explain how these two very abnormal, unusual, and troubling events took place?

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, once again, as the Minister of Foreign Affairs has said repeatedly, he made the decisions in these cases. They were publicly communicated. They were for 32 infrastructure projects, all of which the money has been accounted for.

In terms of specific failings in the process that the leader of the Liberal Party raised, we have reviewed those matters, and are taking steps to ensure that those process failings are not repeated in the future.

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister describes them as process failings. Let us try to understand what they were.

Either a minister alone or in company with other people made a decision without public servants being involved and giving advice with respect to the appropriateness of decisions, and without the benefit of professional advice. There is absolutely no paper trail with respect to how this decision was made.

The Prime Minister prides himself on efficiency and good governance. Any private board, any public company, in this country in which an official of the company made these kinds of decisions would be fired.

Why was the minister promoted and the person who condoned--

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please, the right hon. Prime Minister.

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, ministers are responsible for decisions. The Minister of Foreign Affairs has taken responsibility for the decisions that he has made.

The fact of the matter is that, notwithstanding some of the process problems, this money was spent on 32 public infrastructure projects, all promoted by local municipalities. All the money is accounted for and those projects will serve those communities well into the future.

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the funding discrepancy, the lack of a paper trail and the absence of any public servants are not an indication of problems related to the process, they are indications of an abuse of process.

Why not ask the Auditor General to conduct a value for money audit to explain how such an abuse of process occurred?

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, these projects were recommended by the municipalities and supported by our government. They are public projects. All the money allocated was spent on these projects. The Auditor General made some recommendations, which the government accepted and will adopt in the future.

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, with regard to the member for Parry Sound—Muskoka's $50 million in unjustified expenses, his spokesperson stated that the RCMP investigation was, and I quote, a “public relations stunt”. That is interesting. During the days of the infamous sponsorship scandal, the member for Central Nova described the situation as, and again I quote, a “serious lack of ethical accountability” .

Millions of dollars in expenses with no documentation and an RCMP investigation. Are we not getting a feeling of déjà vu here?

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, there are so many mistakes in that preamble. The Auditor General has made some informed observations. We fully accept the advice of the Auditor General in the future.

Let us look at the five important points with respect to these initiatives: the money was spent on public infrastructure projects; every single penny was accounted for; every construction project was on time; costs came in under budget and, in fact, millions of dollars in this fund were not even spent; and all costs recorded were used for the purposes intended.

In fact, there are 32 individual contribution agreements to support each one of these public infrastructure projects.

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, when the member for Calgary Southwest was in the opposition, he himself said that the Liberal government, with its history—

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. There seems to be an interpretation problem.

Has the problem been resolved? Good.

The hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie.

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, when the member for Calgary Southwest was in opposition, he himself said that the Liberal government, with its history of scandals and refusal to accept responsibility, had not earned the right to be given the benefit of the doubt.

The Conservatives were found in contempt of Parliament, and the RCMP is now investigating the member for Parry Sound—Muskoka's dubious spending.

Do the Conservatives realize that they are behaving in exactly the same manner as their Liberal predecessors?

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Absolutely not, Mr. Speaker.

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General's report paints a pretty tawdry picture of how the Muskoka member diverted border infrastructure money on some pretty dubious pork barrel projects. It was by slipping past the checks and balances that are put in place to protect taxpayers.

Infrastructure Canada, frozen out; Treasury Board's implementation team, kept in the dark. He left no documents. He had no oversight. When it is $50 million, it is not good enough to say, “I'm sorry, the dog ate my homework”. No wonder the cops are investigating him.

When will he come clean with this House and say how he got away with that bauble--

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. The hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest just a few short weeks ago to a wise man who made comments like this, “We are prepared to have a tone of debate and discussion that is respectful. Canadians do not want insults. They do not like insults and attacks. We may disagree, but we must show each other respect”.

I have taken up the challenge of the leader of the NDP. Why has my colleague from Timmins done such a terrible job in following the great example provided by the leader of the NDP?

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, there is nothing more insulting to the debate of this House than to have a minister who is promoted after a scandal breaks. Not just promoted but promoted to the Treasury board, and who sits there day after day after day, hiding under his desk like Mini-Me. That is insulting to the people--

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I am not sure how the hon. member expects to hear the answer to the question when his colleagues do not allow him to finish putting the question. He still has a few seconds left. If he wants to finish his question, then I will recognize the hon. minister.

I will go to the member for Timmins—James Bay for a very brief summary.

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Quite simply, Mr. Speaker, when will he do the right thing, stand up, and be responsible to this House and to the people of Canada?

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite wants to talk about insults. I think there could be no greater insult than to break faith with the people who elected us and say one thing before the election and do another thing afterward, like this member did with the gun registry.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, Canadians want the truth. A year and a half ago, this House voted for a public inquiry into Canada's transfer of detainees and significant risk of torture in Afghanistan. Instead, we got a backroom deal which kept the lid on it for over a year. Now, the day before this House is scheduled to close for the summer, we are getting a document dump.

Does the Prime Minister seriously believe that this will satisfy the need for public accountability and a judicial review of Canada's international obligations?