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House of Commons Hansard #110 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was inequality.

Topics

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Outremont Québec

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the truth is that in 2006, the Prime Minister said, “we made a pledge during the last election campaign to put international treaties and military engagements to a vote in this chamber.”

He added, “before we send diplomats, relief workers and soldiers on dangerous missions abroad, it is important to be able to tell them that Canada’s parliamentarians believe in their objectives and support what they are doing.”

That is what they promised. Will Parliament be able to vote this time on whether or not to keep our troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition is right. We made a promise. We have kept that promise so far and we will continue to keep that promise.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, on November 17, 2010, the Prime Minister accused the then leader of the opposition of wanting to tear up jobs “by tearing up the contract”. Therefore, he clearly stated that there was in fact a contract with respect to the F-35. It is a statement the Prime Minister repeated again during the election campaign.

If there was in fact no contract, which is what the Prime Minister is now saying, and he is saying there is in fact still no contract, why did the Prime Minister mislead the House on November 17, 2010?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I did no such thing. I think Canadians and the industry understand full well that Canada's participation in the development of the F-35, the next generation of fighter aircraft, is intrinsic to the work that Canadian companies have received. It is almost half a billion dollars in contracts that have come to the industry in our country.

Obviously this government will continue to support our air force as well as our aerospace industry.

EthicsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, if we have to choose between the record of Hansard and the Prime Minister's newly discovered memory with respect to these questions, I think we will take Hansard.

Perhaps one of the reasons we can explain the lack of standards with respect to even being prepared to admit to having said something that he said is that might explain also the conduct of the Minister of International Cooperation. It might also explain what is going on at the Old Port of Montreal.

How does the Prime Minister feel about the revelations today, showing clearly an abuse of office, of misspending of public dollars, catered meals, limousines, the same pattern we have seen with the Minister of International Cooperation? How does he explain this kind of activity at the heart of his government?

EthicsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the agency in question is an independent crown corporation.

As members will know well, the government has established strict rules and expects those to be respected. When they are not respected, appropriate action is taken. That is why, in all these categories, we spend vastly less than the previous Liberal government did.

EthicsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the reason the Conservatives are having problems with the rules is clear: it is because the Prime Minister himself does not follow the rules. He continues to mislead the House when he talks about a contract that does not exist and has never existed, even though he said in the past that it did exist. Perhaps this also explains the problem at the Old Port of Montreal and why the minister never paid back the cost of her limousine.

Will the minister pay back the cost of the limousine, since this has not yet been done?

EthicsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I have been very clear. It is the leader of the Liberal Party who is confused, which is not surprising. The minister has apologized and has taken appropriate measures.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, Conservative mismanagement of the F-35 fiasco is so bad that the Parliamentary Budget Officer is going to look at the government books on this troubled jet for a second time.

The PBO can help shed light on the government's attempt to cover up the $10 billion difference between what it said it would cost and the actual price tag.

Will the government agree to fully co-operate with the PBO this time and provide all the necessary financial information so he can get to the bottom of this?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Edmonton—Spruce Grove Alberta

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, we have been very clear that we want this process to be transparent. I welcome the PBO.

I assume the Department of National Defence will be forthcoming with all of the documents necessary that the PBO needs and also in meeting the recommendation of the Auditor General, which is to update the cost of the F-35 and make that public in Parliament to all of us.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, assume, if it really did that, it would be a first.

The Minister of National Defence's accounting excuse was so bad last week that the PBO has been compelled to reopen the file. The last time the PBO had trouble even getting simple costing information from the government and especially from the Department of National Defence.

Will the Minister of National Defence stop trying to cover his tracks? Will he direct his department to fully assist the PBO and actually provide the information it has been hiding from the public?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Edmonton—Spruce Grove Alberta

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General did pronounce on this issue. We have agreed with all his recommendations and his conclusions. We have put in place a seven-point plan to ensure full transparency and accountability. The number one recommendation is that the Department of National Defence update its cost estimates for the F-35 and table those in Parliament.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Parliamentary Budget Officer is not the only one raising some serious questions about the F-35s. Even the Royal Canadian Air Force is saying that the government's plan is not working. Canadian Forces decision-makers are afraid that the budget allocated for the F-35s is not even enough to cover training costs. That is not an accounting error; that is mismanagement.

I would like to know if the Minister of Public Works also plans to improvise, or will she actually try to come up with a plan B?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Edmonton—Spruce Grove Alberta

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, again, we have accepted the recommendations and the conclusions of the Auditor General. We expect full transparency and accountability from the Department of National Defence when it comes forward to table its updated cost estimates on the F-35 to all Parliamentarians.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Kellway NDP Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, the air force says there is not going to be enough money to cover pilot training. That is important because those guys know that flying these things is a little more complicated than sitting in one for a photo op.

Let me ask the Minister of Defence to come out from behind his desk to answer a simple question.

DND's own costing handbook says that a good rule of thumb is to take the acquisition price for the planes and multiply it by four. That is the total life cycle cost. He may need a calculator for this, but I know the minister can do the math.

Therefore, why did he tell Canadians that this would cost only $15 billion?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Edmonton—Spruce Grove Alberta

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's advice on this, but I do believe the Auditor General's recommendation is a sound one, it is a good one. We fully expect the Department of National Defence to come forward, very transparently, with updated cost estimates for the government and for all of Parliament.

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Ethics Commissioner is once again taking a close look at the minister of conflicts of interest. Keeping a minister in cabinet despite his involvement in so many scandals perpetuates the culture of impunity that is poisoning this government.

Maybe the Conservatives' economic recovery plan is to create jobs in the Ethics Commissioner's office. But when it comes to workers who need help, such as the Aveos workers with whom I protested this morning, the government stands idly by.

When will the Prime Minister be consistent and send the message that his Minister of Industry's actions will not be tolerated?

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I would point out that the title the hon. member used originally is actually not a title of any minister in this government. Therefore, I would ask him to be a bit more respectful in posing his questions in the House.

In terms of the question he asked, there is absolutely nothing new in this story. The minister will assist the ethics commissioner in responding to the letter the Liberals have written.

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, by doing nothing, the Prime Minister is sending a clear message: “Help yourselves, do whatever you want, make your way to the trough.”

The Minister of International Cooperation seems to have received the message loud and clear.

This morning, we also learned that people at the Old Port of Montreal go on luxurious retreats with five-star working lunches. Only the price of the orange juice remains unknown.

The more stories like these come to light, the more it looks as if the Conservatives have a strong mandate to lounge in luxury at taxpayers' expense.

Is there a grown-up on the other side of the House who will take control and send a clear message that the free-for-all is over and that we want our government to promote a culture of ethics?

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, in all matters, we have been clear that our government is managing taxpayer dollars carefully. That is why Canada is in a better position fiscally than any of the other major developed economies. That is why we have been focusing on getting our budget balanced. That is why we have been clear in the conduct of all public officials and all ministers, that we expect them to conduct business at a reasonable cost. That is what we see from this government. That is why our expenses are so much lower than the Liberals before us.

EthicsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister promised Canadians he would clean up Ottawa. Instead, he is letting his friends run roughshod over the taxpayer. Exhibit A is the Minister of International Cooperation.

Do members remember the $16,000 limo bill she had in 2006, or the $5,000 limo joyride at the Junos? Now it is $3,000 in London. I am sorry, but if every time somebody gets caught and says “sorry”, it just does not sound honest.

She has been caught. She has paid for the orange juice: big deal. Will she stand and pay for the frivolous limo rides she dinged the taxpayers with in London, yes or no?

EthicsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, as we have said before, the minister has repaid the inappropriate expenses in this matter and has apologized to the House.

As I have said many times, our government expects that ministers and all public officials conduct business with the greatest respect for taxpayer dollars. That is the reason why, compared with the previous government, our costs of ministerial travel are 15% lower. The taxpayers want to see a government that respects taxpayer dollars, and that is what we will continue to do.

EthicsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, if the Conservatives respected taxpayers, they would have their hon. member stand and be accountable instead of hiding in the dog house or behind the minister. A simple “sorry” will not suffice.

That is a minister who was found in contempt of the Canadian Parliament, a minister who has wracked up thousands of dollars in frivolous bills, a minister who tells hard-working Canadians that, “I'm sorry, a five-star hotel just isn't posh enough for me”.

Therefore, if she will not answer, I will ask the man in charge. When he has an ethically challenged minister, what does she have to do in order to get kicked out of his Cadillac cabinet?

EthicsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, once again, the opposition member makes a number of accusations and allegations that are simply not correct. In terms of accountability, the minister has been fully accountable, was accountable in the House and has repaid all inappropriate expenses.

The important consideration for all taxpayers is that the government is interested in seeing that taxpayer dollars are respected and managed carefully. That is what our government has been doing and that is why, notwithstanding inflation, our expenses continue to be 15% lower for ministerial travel than those of the previous Liberal government.

We will continue to stay focused on ensuring taxpayer dollars are treated with the greatest of respect.

EthicsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Romeo Saganash NDP Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Mr. Speaker, while the Minister of International Cooperation rides in limousines and stays in the world's most luxurious hotels, her department is cutting nearly $400 million from its aid to the world's poorest countries. Attendance at the Saving Children's Lives conference cost $1,000 per day, yet as we know, a child can be vaccinated against malaria for a mere $14.

When will the government curb the excesses of the “minister of mimosas” and restore funding to help those who really need it?