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House of Commons Hansard #120 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was chair.

Topics

National DefenceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Kellway NDP Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, maybe the minister is having trouble figuring out which set of books to enter those numbers into.

Yesterday the report on plans and priorities for DND revealed the familiar procurement pattern of delays and cost escalation. This time it is the Arctic icebreaker, pushed back to 2018. The Conservatives promised it in 2013 and then by 2015. In the meantime, costs have escalated by $40 million and counting.

Why has every Conservative procurement project been late, over budget and poorly managed?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Vaughan Ontario

Conservative

Julian Fantino ConservativeAssociate Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, that is a very strange question from a party that does not support any acquisition whatsoever for our military men and women. However, our government is committed to providing our Canadian Forces with modern, capable equipment, including the Arctic offshore patrol ships. These ships will be built in Canada and will allow our proud Royal Canadian Navy to enforce our northern sovereignty in a way that he would not appreciate.

We will continue to do the best we can in this regard.

Canada Revenue AgencyOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, recently the Minister of the Environment referred to the “money laundering” activities of several registered charities in the country.

Given the fact that the Canada Revenue Agency is supposed to be politically neutral, is not supposed to be a political arm of the Conservative Party of Canada or of the Government of Canada and is supposed to be objective and confidential, does the Prime Minister not realize that the kinds of comments made by his minister in fact point to a political campaign against a number of registered charities which the government simply does not like? Does he not understand the dangers—

Canada Revenue AgencyOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The right hon. Prime Minister.

Canada Revenue AgencyOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Canada Revenue Agency is independent of the government and is tasked with enforcing the law. The laws with respect to registered charities are clear. In fact, we are taking steps to ensure they are crystal clear. However, they are clear that there are limits to political activities for donations that people give on a tax receivable basis for charitable causes.

Canada Revenue AgencyOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister cannot deny that there is a problem. At the end of April, Canadians disclosed their financial information to the Canada Revenue Agency. They expect the agency to be impartial and they expect that the information will not be used for political purposes.

Why is the Prime Minister allowing his minister to make personal and political attacks against charities that the minister singles out for the Canada Revenue Agency to attack?

Canada Revenue AgencyOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, once again, the Canada Revenue Agency operates independently and is responsible for enforcing the tax laws. There are very clear rules for charities that engage in political activities. There are clear parameters, and the agency is responsible for enforcing the rules.

Canada Revenue AgencyOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is ignoring this by not clearly indicating that the remarks made by the Minister of the Environment are simply unacceptable.

He has a Conservative-dominated committee in the Senate that is going after particular environmental charities. It is not going after the Fraser Institute. It is not going after the Manning Institute. It is not mentioning the fact that the Fraser Institute got $0.5 million from the Koch brothers in the United States. It is not doing that.

However, it is going after environmental charities which are attempting to protect the lifeblood of Canadians. That is what it is doing.

Canada Revenue AgencyOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the leader of the Liberal Party suggests that we should pick and choose certain charities. The reality—

Canada Revenue AgencyOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Canada Revenue AgencyOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. The right hon. Prime Minister has the floor.

Canada Revenue AgencyOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

Stephen Harper Conservative Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, in terms of our own giving and our own political preferences, it is our absolute right to do so.

What is incumbent upon all charities is that they respect the laws regarding political activities. Those laws are clear. We will make them even clearer. The Canada Revenue Agency has an excellent record of the non-partisan enforcement of these rules.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Commissioner of the Environment gave Canadians a serious warning.

The Conservatives have failed on every count when it comes to managing climate change and cleaning up contaminated sites. Their short-term vision includes cuts that will have disastrous consequences for our economy and future generations.

Why does the minister believe that our children should pay for his mistakes?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.

I would suggest, though, that close reading of the environment commissioner's report indicates he is under-informed on the federal contaminated sites program. The report fails to grasp that the program addresses only the most contaminated sites. Hundreds of lower level sites are the responsibility of 16 custodial departments and agencies. The good news is that the commissioner acknowledged we had cleaned up almost 50 of the tar—

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Halifax.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I would argue that the Conservatives are under-informed about what the environment commissioner had to say.

Yesterday at the committee the Conservatives blocked the environment commissioner from talking about environmental assessments and their impact on future contaminated sites. They blocked the environment commissioner from talking about the environment.

Will the minister find his backbone and put a stop to this environmental train wreck?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, we received the report of the environment commissioner with interest. We also received his compliments on the achievements and progress we have made in a number of areas.

It is clear, with regard to climate change, that the commissioner had points of reference that were at least a year out of date. With regard to contaminated sites, as I said, he clearly misunderstands the federal program.

We are working to address our environmental challenges in our country, and we will get that done.

Conservative Party of CanadaOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are also trying to muzzle critics by attacking organizations such as Tides Canada, which just won a national award for its leadership, transparency and good governance.

The Conservatives also received an award this week, the Code of Silence Award from the Canadian Association of Journalists for the least transparent government in all of Canada.

Why are the Conservatives constantly attacking well-managed, transparent organizations? The Conservatives are poor managers. Are they jealous of these organizations?

Conservative Party of CanadaOral Questions

May 9th, 2012 / 2:35 p.m.

Egmont P.E.I.

Conservative

Gail Shea ConservativeMinister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, section 241 prevents me from commenting directly on any specific case. It also protects the privacy of Canadian taxpayers, and that includes charities as well.

Our government does understand that registered Canadian charities are very important to our society. We encourage Canadians to donate very generously.

We must also ensure that those donations used for the purpose for which they were intended.

Conservative Party of CanadaOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, Tides Canada has been targeted and attacked by Conservative ministers, and that is wrong. It was recognized yesterday for showing leadership, transparency and accountability. It is one of the best run NGOs in all of the country.

The Conservatives won the code of silence award from the Canadian Association of Journalists for being the worst government in Canada for secrecy. The government should be learning from NGOs like Tides Canada and not attacking them.

When will the government stop attacking Canadians who disagree with its policies?

Conservative Party of CanadaOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Egmont P.E.I.

Conservative

Gail Shea ConservativeMinister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, our government understands that registered charities are a very important part of our society, as I said.

We are taking actions so Canadians can be assured that charities are using their resources appropriately. Canadians are donating to charities and they want to know their donations are being used for the purpose for which they donated.

Political Party FinancingOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

Mr. Speaker, this morning we learned that SNC-Lavalin executives contributed no less than $25,000 to Conservative riding associations in 2009.

Riadh Ben Aïssa, the former vice-president of SNC-Lavalin who was arrested in Switzerland for corruption and money laundering, was one of the generous donors. The associations then transferred large sums of money to the riding of the then-minister of Public Works.

Did that fundraising campaign influence any contract awards?

Political Party FinancingOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, as everyone knows, our government has put an end to contributions from private companies and brought in strict limits for contributions from individuals.

However, I have before me evidence that Mr. Novak, vice-president of SNC-Lavalin, contributed $7,000 to the opposition leader's party when he was a member of the provincial Liberal Party. I would like the member to stand up and explain that.

Political Party FinancingOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are talking about the government across the floor.

Thanks to the Conservatives, SNC-Lavalin is doing very well, thank you very much. And thanks to SNC-Lavalin, the Conservatives are raking in a lot money. A dozen or so SNC-Lavalin executives and their spouses have donated generous sums to the same association. SNC-Lavalin also happened to win contracts for the Canada Pavilion at the Shanghai International Expo and the Dahla Dam project in Afghanistan.

Do the Conservatives really expect us to believe that there is no connection between the contracts awarded to SNC-Lavalin and the thousands of dollars in donations?

Political Party FinancingOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, of course, we did everything in accordance with all laws and procedures.

The opposition leader has not answered my question. A vice-president of SNC-Lavalin donated $7,000 to the opposition leader's party when he was a member of the provincial Liberals. I would like him to rise here and explain this.