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House of Commons Hansard #111 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was seniors.

Topics

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Outremont Québec

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, our troops have been in Afghanistan too long already. Canadians have told us that they do not want another extension. They do not want a Prime Minister who vacillates on whether there will be an extension. They want a Prime Minister who respects the role of Parliament, period.

Canadians want a clear answer from the Prime Minister. Will he keep our troops in Afghanistan past 2014, yes or no?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I have made myself very clear. Unlike the NDP, we are not going to ideologically have a position regardless of circumstances.

The leader of the NDP, in 1939, did not even want to support war against Hitler.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

An hon. member

There was no NDP.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Conservative

Stephen Harper Conservative Calgary Southwest, AB

Okay, it was the CCF, same difference. Parties do change their names from time to time.

Our position is we will do what is in the best interests of Canada.

JusticeOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Outremont Québec

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, so let us speak about Reform Party policy. We know the Prime Minister likes to control his message. He would not let his Conservatives do something that he did not agree with.

Could the Prime Minister tell Canadians why he allowed his Conservative MPs to reopen the debate on abortion?

JusticeOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, every private member can table bills and motions in the House. Party leaders do not have any control over that. This particular motion was deemed votable by an all-party committee of the House. I think that is unfortunate. In my case, I will be voting against the motion.

JusticeOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Outremont Québec

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I see that there will be a debate in the House on Motion M-312, a Conservative motion. It is a debate on abortion. If a Conservative motion triggers a debate on abortion in the House, then the Conservatives have reopened the debate on abortion. Otherwise there would be no debate and no vote.

Why has the Prime Minister allowed the abortion debate to be reopened?

JusticeOral Questions

April 26th, 2012 / 2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, every member has the right to move a motion. Party leaders have no control over that. An all-party committee decides whether or not these motions are votable.

I think it is unfortunate that this all-party committee decided that the motion is votable. In my case, I will be voting against the motion.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General, in committee today, said that he had “received letters from the deputy ministers of the departments indicating that the departments disagreed with our conclusions”. That is with respect to the F-35 contract.

I would like to ask the Prime Minister: Was he aware that such letters were being sent in? Or were his ministers aware that such letters were being sent in to the Auditor General on behalf of the departments in question?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it is a standard procedure during an audit for departments to respond to the Auditor General. The Auditor General has reported on this matter in his report, as the leader of the Liberal Party knows full well. The government accepts the conclusions of the Auditor General and is acting on those conclusions.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I note that the Prime Minister did not actually answer my question with respect to his own personal level of awareness with respect to whether those documents were sent in and what they said.

The problem we have is that there does not appear to be anything called ministerial accountability left in the Government of Canada.

The Prime Minister refuses to take responsibility for the conclusions of the Auditor General's report, which are extremely critical of the lack of information provided to Parliament. His ministers refuse to take responsibility for the conclusions. His House leader says there is a big difference between what the departments have said and what the government itself is concluding.

I would like to ask the Prime Minister: Does he or does he not accept the conclusions of the Auditor General of Canada—

National DefenceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The Right Hon. Prime Minister.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I do not know how many ways to give the same answer. The government has clearly accepted the conclusions, and the government has been quite detailed about the steps it will take to implement those conclusions.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, if they accept the conclusions, then let us pay close attention to what the Auditor General clearly said. He clearly stated that when National Defence provided answers, its representatives knew that the cost was likely to rise, but chose not inform parliamentarians.

So the question is very simple. If the Prime Minister accepts the conclusions, does he accept responsibility for misleading Parliament?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, those are not the Auditor General's conclusions.

This government accepted the Auditor General's conclusions. The Auditor General made a single recommendation and the government agreed to it. The government also made a number of commitments to respond to the Auditor General's conclusions.

EthicsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet NDP La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Conservatives' version was that every expense was repaid. Today, it is that other expenses were repaid. I did not, however, hear the Conservatives condemn the minister's dubious choices.

International aid will drop to less than .25% of our GDP. That is in stark contrast to the minister's extravagant lifestyle. The minister's ethical choices are seriously out of sync with what she chooses to do when it comes to international aid.

Do the Conservatives believe that the minister's choices are appropriate, yes or no?

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 have answered those questions several times. Our government requires that travel on government business be at a reasonable cost to the taxpayer. That is why, under our government, travel expenses have dropped 15% compared to what they were under the former Liberal government. The minister repaid any inappropriate expenses.

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet NDP La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, after days of questioning, the Conservatives are finally realizing that the “mimosa minister's” expenses are inappropriate. She has now had to pay for her lavish stay in London because it was inappropriate.

If that was inappropriate, what about the more than $21,000 it cost to travel by limousine? Make no mistake, the minister is not being asked to take a sleeping bag and her own finger sandwiches to international meetings; she is simply being asked to be vigilant and show some judgment.

Will the Conservatives issue clear guidelines on what they consider appropriate and inappropriate?

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, our expectations are very clear. Our government requires that travel on government business be at a reasonable cost to the taxpayer.

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

The only thing that is clear, Mr. Speaker, is that we have a minister who refuses to take responsibility for her abuse of the taxpayers.

If we asked the average Canadian taxpayers if it is appropriate for her to charge $1,000 a day to ferry her one mile to and from work, they would say absolutely not. The House leader yesterday said it was perfectly appropriate. The minister refuses to stand up and tell us whether she thinks getting caught was good or bad for her career. The question of appropriateness should not be about getting caught; it should be about doing the right thing.

Will the minister stand up, apologize to Canadians and tell us exactly what expenses she is going to pay back? Why is she—

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. government House leader.

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, as I have said several times, our expectations as a government are very clear. We expect that ministers will conduct government business at a reasonable cost to the taxpayers. In practice, that has had very positive beneficial results to the bottom line. The fact is that government spending by ministers on travel is down 15% and on hospitality 33% lower than the government before us. That is what we are seeking to achieve. That is one of the reasons why the minister has repaid the inappropriate costs in this matter.

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I like his discussion about their expectations. The expectations with the minister are pretty obvious. When she got caught racking up $16,000 in limos, she was sorry. When she got caught racking up $5,000 to joyride at the Junos, she was sorry. Now she has tried to stick taxpayers with $3,000 for one mile. Is she sorry? We have not heard that from her.

She almost got away with it. This is a woman who needs her own personal third party manager. I have not heard what steps the Conservatives are going to take to keep this woman in line.

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, as I said, our expectations as a government are quite clear. All ministers are expected to conduct business at a reasonable cost to save taxpayers' dollars. In practice it has worked, and it has worked very well. That is why travel expenses overall for government ministers are down 15% compared with our predecessors and hospitality expenses are down by one-third.

The minister in this case has apologized. The member has not acknowledged that fact. She has repaid any inappropriate expenses. He seems to not want to acknowledge that fact. She has done the right thing, and I think we should thank her and accept her apology.

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, using a limousine to go two kilometres seems appropriate for the Conservatives.

Eating foie gras and drinking champagne in their limousines have made the ministers in this government lose all contact with reality. Responsibility for this ethical decline rests entirely on the shoulders of the Prime Minister. When the example comes from the top, the others feel justified in doing whatever they like.

The information circulating at this time about the Old Port of Montreal Corporation is particularly disturbing.

Are the Conservatives going to agree to the NDP’s request to have a parliamentary committee summon the officers of the Old Port of Montreal Corporation, to fully explore the allegations of mismanagement?