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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was federal.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Canadian Alliance MP for Calgary Southwest (Alberta)

Won his last election, in 2000, with 65% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Human Resources Development February 23rd, 2000

Mr. Speaker, angry taxpayers have another question for the Prime Minister, and it is one they would like an answer to.

The public knows that the Minister of Finance controls the flow of tax dollars to government departments. They also know now that during the very period the finance minister was slashing payments to health care, he was increasing funds to HRDC programs that were being grossly mismanaged.

Why did the Prime Minister not do anything to stop the finance minister from obviously misallocating hard earned taxpayer money?

Human Resources Development February 23rd, 2000

Mr. Speaker, one shows respect for taxpayers by meeting with them and answering their questions.

Taxpayers are wondering why the Prime Minister is afraid to talk to them about the gross mishandling of taxpayer dollars at HRD. Of course, if he did that and gave the pathetic and evasive non-answers to them that he gives in the House, Mr. Speaker, you would not be able to control the meeting. They would boo him off the stage.

I challenge the Prime Minister. If he is not afraid, when will he go out and hold a—

Human Resources Development February 23rd, 2000

Mr. Speaker, it is always nice to be missed. The Prime Minister is clearly unaware of the impressions and the questions he is generating among taxpayers because of the HRD billion dollar bungle.

While he huddles with his damage control experts, I have been out meeting thousands of taxpayers. They are angry and believe that the Prime Minister is obstructing every attempt to get at the truth behind the billion dollar bungle at human resources development.

Their question is: When will the Prime Minister stop denying, stonewalling and defending the indefensible, and start treating taxpayers with the respect they demand?

Supply February 8th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, I agree with the hon. member that the responsibility for this boondoggle does not stop with the current minister. It does go back to the previous minister of human resources. I would argue that it even goes back to the minister for human resources before that, who is now the foreign affairs minister but who was there when the government set in place this type of program.

I would be quite in favour of those ministers being held accountable for this.

In terms of an investigation, the current minister should resign immediately. I would like to see the auditor general take a full look at this. There are other investigations that could be conducted and then further accountability both at the ministerial and the bureaucrat level be determined and appropriate disciplinary actions taken at those levels as well.

Supply February 8th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, the member's comments illustrate what is wrong with the government. The member does not want to talk about the issue at hand. The government does not want to talk about the issue at hand. The minister does not want to talk about it. The issue has nothing to do with the member's private member's bill.

The issue has everything to do with the mismanagement of a billion dollars of taxpayers' money and the fact that the minister stood in the House and said that all was well when an audit was sitting on her desk saying that all was not well. That is the issue being discussed here and not the subject being raised by the hon. member.

Supply February 8th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time this morning with my colleague, the hon. member for Calgary—Nose Hill.

Our subject will be the supply motion which deplores the mismanagement of taxpayers' dollars by the Department of Human Resources Development and expresses our total lack of confidence in the minister. If the motion is carried by the House, the minister would be obliged to resign.

In the course of the debate, my colleagues and others will be laying before the House the evidence that taxpayers' funds have been grossly mismanaged by the minister. In my remarks, however, I want to address violations of the principle of ministerial accountability by the Minister of Human Resources Development, violations which in themselves should oblige the resignation of the minister.

There are many definitions of the principle of ministerial accountability but one of the latest and best is contained in Erskine May's treatise on the law of privileges, proceedings and usages of parliament, the 22nd edition, 1997. It reads as follows:

...the following principles should govern the conduct of ministers of the Crown in relation to Parliament: ministers have a duty to parliament to account, and to be held to account, for the policies, decisions and actions of their departments and Next Step Agencies; it is of paramount importance that ministers give accurate and truthful information to Parliament, correcting any inadvertent error at the earliest possible opportunity. Ministers who knowingly mislead Parliament will be expected to offer their resignation to the Prime Minister;

As hon. members know, the handling of money through the transitional jobs fund has been suspect for years. Numerous questions have been asked concerning its administration, particularly respecting funds allocated to the Prime Minister's riding during the last session of the House.

As late as December of last year, inside and outside the House, the minister repeatedly denied that there were any problems worthy of concern. The appropriate approval processes were being followed. No moneys flowed until the approval process was completed. Nothing inappropriate was done. On and on she went denying any mismanagement and constantly affirming that all was well.

Now we discover that while the minister was making these very statements to the House, she had on her desk a departmental audit covering some 459 project files which revealed the following: 72% of the projects reviewed had no cashflow forecast; 46% had no estimate of the number of participants; 25% had no description of the activities to be supported; 25% provided no description of the characteristics of the participants; 11% did not even have a budget proposal; 11% had no description of expected results; 15% did not have an application on file from the sponsor; 8 out 10 files reviewed did not show evidence of financial monitoring; 87% of project files reviewed showed no evidence of supervision; and 97% of the files reviewed showed no evidence that anyone had checked to see if the recipient already owed money to the government.

This is overwhelming evidence of gross mismanagement of taxpayers' money. However, the fact that the minister knew these things and continually repeated and reassured the House that all was well, is an obvious violation of the minister's obligation to give accurate and truthful information to parliament. Because the minister has repeatedly violated this principle, the House should express its lack of confidence in the minister by passing the motion and she should resign.

In enforcing the principle of ministerial accountability, it is imperative that the House dig deeper into the root causes of ministerial accountability for funds spent by the human resources ministry. Here the trail leads right back to the Prime Minister himself and the use or misuse of the transitional jobs fund.

Prior to becoming Prime Minister, the current Prime Minister said in 1991:

When we form government, every minister in the cabinet...will have to take full responsibility for what is going on in his department. If there is any bungling in the department, ...the minister will have to take responsibility.

This was a statement of ministerial accountability by the Prime Minister but it has never been put into practice. The Prime Minister's ability to put it into practice has been compromised by his own conduct with respect to the use of the transitional jobs fund in his own riding.

When a transitional jobs fund grant was put into a trust fund to help a failing company in the Prime Minister's riding and someone eventually got $1.19 million from the suspect trust fund, which later proved to be illegal; when that someone was Claude Gauthier who had already purchased land from the Prime Minister's golf course and donated $10,000 to the Prime Minister's election campaign; when the business then being run by Gauthier got the money and laid off all but 62 of the original 115 employees for a net job loss of 53 jobs, all this done in the name of job creation; when Mr. Gauthier had already received a $6 million CIDA government contract; when another $11,000 got into the hands of René Fugère, a man who was under RCMP investigation for doing illegal lobbying for three other companies; when, in a memo to a department official, one of the human resources minister's staff instructed that the dollar amounts given to the two hotels in the Prime Minister's riding had to be artificially inflated to “keep the same amounts suggested by the Prime Minister during discussions with the promoters”.

When all these things happened with human resources funds in the Prime Minister's riding, and the Prime Minister excuses these things and refuses to accept any responsibility, what message does this send to other ministers, the civil service and the public at large?

If the Prime Minister can play fast and loose with taxpayers' money, allocated under inadequate financial guidelines for job creation, what is to stop other ministers or MPs from doing the same thing? What is to stop high and lower level bureaucrats from assuming that this type of conduct and handling of federal funds is perfectly acceptable behaviour?

Once that happens, when there is no example of financial accountability, responsibility or integrity at the top, the fish rots from the head down. Now the little scandal in Shawinigan has mushroomed into a billion dollar boondoggle at human resources.

The Prime Minister refuses to enforce the principle of ministerial accountability in the case of the human resources development minister. Why? Because he lacks the moral authority to do so.

It is therefore the duty of the House to enforce ministerial accountability in this case. It can do so by simply supporting the motion that is before us.

Supply February 8th, 2000

moved:

That this House express its concern over the gross mismanagement of more than one billion annually in grants and contributions from the Department of Human Resources Development, its support for the doctrine of ministerial responsibility, and its lack of confidence in the Minister of Human Resources Development.

Human Resources Development February 7th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, it is unbelievable. As late as November of last year the minister told the House the appropriate approval process was being followed and nothing inappropriate was done. But while the minister was making those statements, we know that she had an audit on her desk that showed that eight out of ten files reviewed showed no evidence of financial monitoring, 87% of the files showed no evidence of supervision and 15% did not even have the name of the person they were giving the money to.

Why should the House believe the minister's current explanation when her original story to this House was false?

Human Resources Development February 7th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, a fish rots from the top down.

We pointed out last year that moneys from the transitional jobs fund were being misused in the Prime Minister's riding. The Prime Minister excused it. He accepted no responsibility. He set the wrong example. Now that little scandal from Shawinigan has become the billion dollar boondoggle in human resources.

Why does the Prime Minister not start accepting responsibility for this gross misuse of taxpayers' money and fire the Minister of Human Resources Development?

Human Resources Development February 7th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister intervenes not to protect Canadian taxpayers but to protect the discredited minister.

In 1991 the Prime Minister said “When we form government, every minister in the cabinet will have to take full responsibility for what is going on in their department. If there is any bungling in the department, the minister will have to take responsibility”.

When did the Prime Minister abandon the principle of holding cabinet ministers accountable for squandering taxpayers' money?