Mr. Speaker, I have carefully read the Conservative Party motion to be voted on. If we speak of the Conservative Party, we mean from 1984 until today. This motion accuses the Liberal Party of using public funds for personal benefit and to benefit friends, family and the Liberal Party of Canada.
Last night and this morning I made a number of telephone calls to my riding, which, I might mention, is the largest riding in the 10 provinces. I talked to some 30 people, who said I ought to speak. As a Liberal member of Parliament I am here to help the people of this vast riding. Back home, the name on my office and on our documents is “Bureau du citoyen” or citizens' office. It is like that no matter which party occupies the office.
Reading this motion, I see that the opposition is engaging in very partisan politics. Nevertheless, we hear a lot of talk about the report of the Auditor General of Canada. I am very pleased with this report. I understand very well. I was elected in 1984. I spent nine years and two months with the Conservative Party. Since 1997 I have been with the Liberal Party of Canada. I came back to my old political party. We see by this report that the Liberal government believes that the Auditor General fulfills an essential function. She carries out the audits and independent studies of government activities.
We know that this talk of sponsorships has been going on for several months. I made a statement in the House yesterday afternoon in which I said that I had asked a question in June 2003 to try to find out what was happening. In the vast area of Abitibi-Témiscamingue—some 800,000 square kilometres and 2,000 kilometres from end to end, as the crow flies—I have 63 municipalities to work with. I have to tell them about the programs that exist. I particularly wanted to know how they were organized and what applications were accepted.
According to the report I have obtained—which I was waiting to make public, and finally did yesterday—in my riding, all in all, we have received approximately $65,000. When we look at the sponsorship situation in the riding of Laurier—Sainte-Marie, in Quebec, the riding of the leader of the Bloc Quebecois, we see that they received in excess of $5 million. In contrast with a big riding like ours, I do not find it funny at all.
What all the members of this House and the public want is a comprehensive report. It is very hard to get. I cannot understand why the Conservative Party of Canada, Brian Mulroney's party, cannot ask today that the Standing Committee on Public Accounts draw up a list of all sponsorship projects from 1998 to now, by electoral district and political party, with the names of members and projects, the amounts allocated to the projects, the commission paid to the coordinating agency and communication agencies, as well as a complete list of refusals for each riding.
That is what is important to know. We know some of it. The Standing Committee on Public Accounts and the government should make this report public today, riding by riding, so that all members can see where the money went. It will be surprising to see where contacts are made.
What is hardest for us is to uncover a ring of thieves. When thieves want to rob government, a city or a company, it takes time to flush them out. The Auditor General got hold of the file. The Prime Minister of Canada stood firm. This is the first time I have seen a Prime Minister of Canada intervene so regularly. Even the opposition, even the Bloc Quebecois are not too pleased to see our Prime Minister on television standing firm. This Prime Minister will be doing his homework, he will clean house, regardless of whose name comes out.
There is something odd in all of this. We look at the Conservative Party across the way; it is not a new party, it has been around since 1984. I want to tell the members of the Conservative Party that I am the one who ensured that individual members' expenditures are made public. Every year, a report entitled, “Members' Office and Travel Expenses”, is produced. This report is tabled annually.
In the days of the Conservatives, this was not done. It took me months and months to obtain this report on the members' expenditures. Even today, this information is confidential. The Bloc Quebecois members are not doing this on the provincial level.
When the Parti Quebecois was in power, there was no authorization to divulge the details of expenditures by members of the Quebec National Assembly, meaning costs for travel, lodging, party dues—frankly, there is no party in Quebec anymore. The Parti Quebecois went to the Superior Court to prevent their expenditures from being disclosed. Today, there is a new government in power.
We in the federal government do disclose such expenditures. They are made public in a report tabled with the Speaker of the House. The report is referred to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, which notes the travel expenses. Given the size of my riding, people must be made aware of these expenditures.
This morning something odd occurred. I asked a question concerning travel paid for by sponsors, travel all over the world by one influential Conservative Party member. This is no secret, yet the person answering called it a stupid question.
However, Standing Order 22 stipulates that there must be a public registry of foreign travel by MPs. It provides details of travel by members, particularly those in the Conservative Party and the Bloc Quebecois.
This morning I was again looking at the details of trips by, among others, those of the member for St. Albert, Alberta, whom we often see on television and who is calling for the production of expense reports for Liberal MPs, the government, and executive assistants.
I find it odd that this member has neglected to mention that he has travelled all over. In the past ten years he has been away a total of 3 months and 23 days. He has been to Russia, India, Bangladesh, Belgium, the Ukraine, and several other countries, at a total cost of more than $500,000, that is half a million dollars. This is all very bizarre.
We have Standing Order 22, but the official opposition is not calling for expenditures to be made public. All spending by all members can be found in a report to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts. The opposition is not talking about Standing Order 22. We can see that the member for St. Albert spent in excess of half a million dollars on accommodation, entertainment and plane tickets. We know that a flight costs between $7,000 and $8,000. I have the list.
The oddest thing about all of this is in a report I have before me. When we comment on others, we must speak of ourselves as well. I have made but the one foreign trip, and I will tell this to the public today. I kept notes on it because I knew one day I would have to talk about it.
In 1986, my wife and I were invited by the government of Belgium. That trip cost $1,941 for me and $1,948 for my wife and I received a $420 per diem for travelling from May 11 to 17, 1986. That is what the Speaker of the House of Commons at the time, Mr. John Fraser, wrote to me in a letter dated December 30, 1991.
I can now state my travel expenses for all the trips I have made in the world since 1986 at the taxpayer's expense, just think about that. I hear members from the Conservative Party of Canada saying this is bizarre. I find it very bizarre when they receive sponsorships almost on the sly from large global agencies to travel the world.
If they know of such travels, they have until the end of the day to disclose all the expenses. I can stand here and say that in 1986, my trip for two people cost nearly $4,000. However, I know what the Conservative Party of Canada opposite is talking about when it refers to sponsorships. They receive sponsorships to travel to Haiti, Hawaii and Russia.
When they are not present in the House, no need to ask questions. The same is true for the Bloc Quebecois. They travel all over the world. The NDP less so. They travel less, it is true. I also do not travel much; once in 15 years is not excessive.
The Conservative Party of Canada should ask for the tabling in the House of Commons of the complete list of all the trips made by Conservative, Liberal, Bloc Quebecois and NDP members who have travelled outside of Canada between 1984 and the present as well as the cost of these travels including flights, meals, and accommodation paid by the taxpayer and especially by the sponsors.
Major sponsors are involved in this. People would be interested in knowing. And yet, looking at things overall, we wonder why they are not declaring that now. They are prepared to corner the government during question period. That is their job.
It is the same thing with the Bloc Quebecois member for Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, who recently published a book that may have been funded by taxpayers in Quebec and Canada. The book criticizes the Prime Minister of Canada and his sons, their companies and the Barbados.
There is one thing to know about the companies that do business around Barbados. Of the 1,900 companies in Canada, there are about 700 in Quebec that do business in foreign countries.
Today, as it happens, I was looking at another book entitled, Ces riches qui ne paient pas d'impôts . This member of the Bloc Quebecois, who is a former Progressive Conservative by the way, and who travelled all over the world about twice a month, should get out his list and calculate his spending. But if one looks closely at what is written on page 166 of this book, one finds something bizarre.
This Bloc MP, who dumped on the family of our Prime Minister in his book, should have a look at his family, because it is written here, about his brother:
Nevertheless, it is interesting to look at the Irish “exile” of Luc Plamondon.
That is, the brother of the hon. Bloc Quebecois member.
Ireland is a very popular jurisdiction with artists, writers, composers and sculptors because they can take advantage of a tax exemption. By settling in Ireland, they do not have to pay tax on the income derived from their art.
It is important to point this out. The book has just been released, and I look forward to seeing the hon. member rise—