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House of Commons Hansard #135 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was centre.

Topics

Government SpendingOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member well knows as she has been in this place long enough, there are a number of different ways and means that this government reports to Parliament and through Parliament to the people of Canada. We do so through the estimates, we do so through the quarterly financial reports and we do so with the public accounts.

We also think it is important, if there are to be changes in the workplace, that we contact the workers first so they can go through their workforce adjustment. That is the compassionate thing to do.

I am surprised that the hon. member, who purports to come from a party that is on the side of the workers, is not in fact on that side.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, under the Federal Accountability Act, the PBO has an absolute right to full and timely access to financial data.

After the Auditor General's scathing report on the F-35 costs, I asked the PBO to get an update. DND blew off the PBO with a non-response which looked eerily similar to the minister's non-responses in question period.

Is this what transparency and accountability look like under the ultra-secretive government which takes no prisoners?

National DefenceOral Questions

June 6th, 2012 / 2:45 p.m.

Vaughan Ontario

Conservative

Julian Fantino ConservativeAssociate Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is wrong.

In actual fact, the Minister of National Defence and I appeared for four hours before the committee of the whole, where we answered over 100 questions from all opposition parties. I have also dutifully answered several hundred F-35 questions and disclosed a myriad of documents to the opposition during the past year.

We have been open and forthright. It is unfortunate that the member opposite has not been listening.

Government SpendingOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, MPs must make informed decisions, especially on a budget cutting $5.2 billion and slashing 19,200 jobs. Yet the government will not release vital information to the Parliamentary Budget Officer. Providing information to the PBO is more than an election promise; it is a legal duty.

Why did the Prime Minister order his deputy minister to stall who and what the government was cutting until it was politically convenient? When will the government actually adhere to its own Federal Accountability Act by giving that information to Parliament and the PBO?

Government SpendingOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario

Mr. Speaker, at the risk of repeating myself, I would remark that we are reporting to Parliament precisely in the normal means, through the estimates, the quarterly financial reports and the public accounts. We also have an obligation to the workers who report to us to inform them of any changes in the workplace that might affect them through workforce adjustment. Then we do our reports to Parliaments.

This is the normal way that the government reacts to changes in its expenses. We do report to Parliament and through that to the people of Canada. The people of Canada want to know that we are focused on jobs and economic opportunity.

Government SpendingOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, I see that while the emperor is in Europe, the court jester is here.

The problem we have right now is that not only does the union agree with this, but the government is required by law to give all the information to the Parliamentary Budget Officer.

What do the Conservatives have to hide? Which public servant are they going to try to blame? It is not complicated. The law must be enforced. We want to know. Why are the Conservatives preventing the Parliamentary Budget Officer from having all the information? Everyone agrees except the Conservatives, who have something to hide.

Government SpendingOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario

Mr. Speaker, this is not about the union. If we decided to inform workers first, it is because we have compassion for them. Of course, as I said earlier, we then have the obligation in this House to inform Parliament and the Canadian public through the usual channels, such as the estimates, the quarterly financial reports and the public accounts. That is normal. That is how it usually works.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, the search for the truth into why a young Canadian soldier killed himself after returning from Afghanistan is being blocked by the Conservatives.

The Minister of National Defence has prevented the release of documents about his department's investigation into the case and many of the documents that have been released to the inquiry are censored.

How can we avoid another tragic incident like this one if the minister is making it impossible for the commission to get to the bottom of this? Why will he not release the documents?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Vaughan Ontario

Conservative

Julian Fantino ConservativeAssociate Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, we are deeply saddened by this tragedy.

The Government of Canada has reiterated its commitment to co-operating with the commission and within the proper limits of the commission's mandate and the law. That is exactly what we have been doing.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of National Defence is the only person who has the authority to release the crucial documents in this case. The commissioner has said that the government's action “flies in the face of seeking the truth.”

This is not just about a specific case; it is about the government doing everything it can to meet the needs of the thousands of soldiers coming back home, suffering from psychological or physical injuries.

Why will the Minister of National Defence not do the right thing, release the documents and let the inquiry do its job without censorship?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Vaughan Ontario

Conservative

Julian Fantino ConservativeAssociate Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, we are totally and absolutely committed to supporting our soldiers not only in theatre but also those coming back from service.

In this matter, the issue is being dealt with through the commission. I understand as well that there are legal considerations with respect to lawyer-client privilege. We are in fact working to resolve these issues as we speak.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, let us continue to speak about the lack of transparency.

The Conservatives still do not have a plan B with regard to the F-35s, or else they are simply refusing to share it. Meanwhile, the problems are continuing to pile up. The program is in its third reconfiguration. The employees who are building the F-35s are on strike and an American Senate committee is talking about serious problems with production.

When will the government realize that coming up with a plan B is a higher priority than a $47,000 photo shoot?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Vaughan Ontario

Conservative

Julian Fantino ConservativeAssociate Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, with respect to the member opposite, I do believe that she is in fact misinformed. We are working diligently to find ways to replace our aging CF-18s. We are guided by the work of the secretariat. We are committed to doing that. We are following diligently the recommendation made by the Auditor General.

It is really unfortunate that the member opposite and her party will not have faith in the recommendation made by the Auditor General.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Kellway NDP Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives may want to ignore the problems with the F-35, but the U.S. Senate armed services committee has serious concerns, concerns with affordability, with production quality and with warfare capability. Therefore, it seems the model F-35 was pretty close to the real thing after all.

What will the Conservatives say to the members of our air force when they find out they have to patrol the Arctic on the back of a flatbed truck?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Vaughan Ontario

Conservative

Julian Fantino ConservativeAssociate Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, that is one of the most outrageous accusations I have heard. It is totally misplaced, misinformed and misunderstood no doubt by the member.

The member opposite is strictly misleading Canadians. We are working to procure the right aircraft for our men and women to replace the CF-18s. That member and his party should get into line and support our military.

JusticeOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Conservative

David Sweet Conservative Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, human trafficking is a despicable crime that preys on the most vulnerable members of our society. Experts estimate that up to 15,000 men, women and children in Canada are victims of human trafficking and such victimization has happened in the very riding I represent.

It is our Conservative government, led by the member for Kildonan—St. Paul, who took action to ensure that those who engage in this sort of criminal activity face serious jail time. However, there is much more work that needs to be done.

Could the Minister of Public Safety please comment on what our government is doing to combat human trafficking?

JusticeOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, together with the Minister for Status of Women, I was pleased to announce today the national action plan to combat human trafficking.

We are focusing on four pillars of this strategy: prevention, protection, prosecution and partnership. These measures will strengthen the coordination between our front line police officers to put a stop to human trafficking.

Our government is committed to ensuring we stamp out this despicable crime once and for all.

Ministerial ExpendituresOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, parading around Davos to meet with the elite of international finance is priceless. Renting a vehicle from Lately Embassy Services is costly. The Minister of Finance, the President of Treasury Board and the government House leader literally put the pedal to the metal when it comes to wasting public money. A luxury sport utility vehicle, even if it is a hybrid model, costs more than a regular hybrid.

I have a simple question. If the Minister of International Cooperation's limousine expenses were inappropriate, why are his appropriate?

Ministerial ExpendituresOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, the World Economic Forum is an opportunity for Canadian ministers in attendance to talk about Canada's economic success story, which is exactly what they were doing in 2011. That is an easy thing to do because of Canada's strong economic performance compared with other developed countries during this economic downturn.

What I can tell members in terms of the facts of the particular situation is that the vehicles that were obtained were rented not by ministers' offices but rather by the department. They did so following an open and competitive process to obtain the lowest cost vehicles. Those vehicles were utilized to transport not just ministers, but staff and also departmental officials at this important conference.

Ministerial ExpendituresOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, when we form the government, we will go to Davos, but it will be to talk about sustainable development and not to steal seniors' money.

The Conservatives have been caught in the act and we can sense the panic. However, their problem is that they change the rules depending on which way the wind is blowing and they make up their own rules. There are rules for the unemployed and there are rules for the Conservatives. There are rules for seniors and there are other rules for the Conservatives.

In some cases, people are allowed to rent luxury cars and in others they are not, but we do not know why.

Can the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons enlighten us and spell out the exact rules for the appropriate use of a limousine?

Ministerial ExpendituresOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, the leasing that was done by the departmental officials was done in accordance with Treasury Board guidelines and it was done to achieve the lowest possible costs while still satisfying the criteria set by the World Economic Forum.

The reason it was important for Canada to be there, and the reason the NDP did not want us there, was that we were talking about Canada's economic success. We were talking about the fact that we have the lowest debt and deficit of the major economies and the fact that we have the lowest overall tax rate by far for new business investment among industrialized developed countries. Why were we talking about that? It was because we are trying to create jobs here in Canada by telling those who are looking to invest where the best place in the world is to invest and create jobs. And that is Canada.

Ministerial ExpendituresOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, let us talk about what they were talking about in Davos among the millionaires in Europe. They were saying that Canada was so poor that they were going to squeeze back the pensions of Canadian seniors. That is where they made that announcement. They did not tell Canadian seniors. They told the European millionaires.

Yesterday, the member told the House that they had to spend $23,000 on limos because it was about looking good. Is this standard established by the Durham minister now that they need to look good when they travel in Europe?

Why are they so interested in looking good in front of European millionaires instead of being accountable to Canadian taxpayers and to Canadian seniors?

Ministerial ExpendituresOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I did not say any such thing. What I said was that we had to comply with the rules that the World Economic Forum has for vehicles that will be within the World Economic Forum conference area.

The reason we were there was to talk about Canada's economic success, the fact that Canada has been performing well on the world stage and the fact that Canada is the best place to invest and create jobs. That is what we were talking about because there were people there who were trying to decide. They have a choice, the whole world, where they can go and invest and create jobs. We want them to come to Canada because we want to see jobs created here. We have done it for 750,000 Canadians so far. We will keep on working on that track record.

Ministerial ExpendituresOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Come on, Mr. Speaker. This is a question of fairness. It is not like we are asking them to take public transit.

Let us look at what they spent at Davos. The Muskoka minister racked up $8,000 on a limo that sat idle. We are not asking him to hitchhike. We are not asking him to turn back the gazebo. I will give him the receipts if he did not look at them.

My question is simple. Why are they not showing the same care for taxpayers dollars, the hard-working Canadians who sent them to Davos so they could hang around in limos looking good?

Ministerial ExpendituresOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I have every confidence that the officials at Foreign Affairs did their best when they sought to have a public competition to obtain the best possible costs. They did so but they also had to do so in a fashion that complied with the rules of the World Economic Forum for that conference.

However, the reason we were there is the important issue because the NDP members do not care about that and would not want us there. We were there to create jobs. We were there to tell Canada's economic success story. We were there to talk about the fact that Canada has the most skilled workforce in the world, with the highest proportion of post-secondary graduates in the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development. That is why we have an economic action plan now to make that skilled workforce even better and more effective so we can create more jobs and prosperity.