October 3, 1997

?

The Speaker

The hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Foreign Affairs
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LIB

Lloyd Axworthy

Liberal

Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the first thing I should report to the House is that we contacted the hon. member's office for information about all these calls and we have yet to receive any of that information.

I am quite happy to respond to any specific request when I receive it and I would ask the hon. member to give it to me.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Foreign Affairs
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BQ

Jocelyne Girard-Bujold

Bloc Québécois

Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold (Jonquière, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Public Works.

The issues raised by the ongoing investigation into allegations of influence peddling throws the whole federal government contract award process into question.

Can the public works minister give us the assurance, beyond all doubt, that he has taken every measure possible to prevent all influence peddling in the award of government contracts?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
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LIB

Alfonso Gagliano

Liberal

Hon. Alfonso Gagliano (Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I can assure this house and my hon. colleague that all government contracts are awarded by public tendering, open to all. The hon. member and all Canadians can put in a bid, they can even use the Internet to do so, and I can assure you that there is no influence peddling and that it is all done by the book and in accordance with the law.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
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BQ

Jocelyne Girard-Bujold

Bloc Québécois

Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold

Mr. Speaker, I have a supplementary.

Given that 37 percent of all federal contracts, totalling $3.2 billion in 1995, were untendered, does the minister not recognize that this approach opens the door to all sorts of abuse, including strong possibilities of influence peddling?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
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LIB

Alfonso Gagliano

Liberal

Hon. Alfonso Gagliano (Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, yes, it does happen, in an emergency or for security reasons, that we award what is called sole source contracts.

However, I should point out to the hon. member and to the House that, when we took office in 1993, 50 percent of government contracts were awarded that way, compared to only 35 percent today. And we will keep reducing this number.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
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REF

Jason Kenney

Reform

Mr. Jason Kenney (Calgary Southeast, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, yesterday I tabled an affidavit by Mr. Dennis Coffey, a 25-year customs investigator, in which he confirmed allegations of fraud, nepotism and abuse in the Department of National Revenue. The minister has repeatedly denied these allegations. He must have some pretty compelling evidence to offhandedly dismiss Mr. Coffey's claims.

Has the government conducted an investigation into these troubling allegations, what evidence does it have if any, and will it table such evidence in the House today?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   National Revenue
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LIB

Sue Barnes

Liberal

Mrs. Sue Barnes (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Revenue, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, let me be very clear. The member opposite should very well know that any matter before the Public Service Commission Appeal Board will not be disclosed in this House because it is inappropriate to comment on it at this time.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   National Revenue
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REF

Jason Kenney

Reform

Mr. Jason Kenney (Calgary Southeast, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, these are publicly made allegations, publicly reported in the newspapers about fraud, corruption, nepotism and abuse in the department. Surely the government takes that seriously enough to investigate those independent of the appeal happening.

Does the parliamentary secretary deny we have learned that Mr. Coffey has alleged that Marvin Goodman, a senior customs manager, authorized the use of a government office at 1 Front Street in Toronto for his sister to run a dress shop rent free.

What does the government think of this? Does it think it is appropriate for government officials to be using government office space for the personal financial benefit of members of their families?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   National Revenue
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LIB

Sue Barnes

Liberal

Mrs. Sue Barnes (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Revenue, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, allegations that Revenue Canada gives preferential treatment to any courier company in this country are false and unfounded. Right now there is a risk management system that has been in place and is supported by all courier companies.

If any member of this House has any evidence that we should be investigating, let them place it before us and we will investigate.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   National Revenue
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BQ

Réal Ménard

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Réal Ménard (Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.

Today, the media are reporting that a committee appointed by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration has stated that Canada makes it too easy for war criminals to enter the country.

Can the minister tell the House how many war criminals her department has currently identified in Canada?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   War Criminals
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LIB

Lucienne Robillard

Liberal

Hon. Lucienne Robillard (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, let me to correct the facts. The statement was not made by a committee appointed by the minister. It is found in a report written by an officer to his director. The officer is a member of the department's war crimes section.

This shows that we do have a departmental war crimes section, where an inventory of about 300 suspected people was made, and I emphasize the word “suspected”.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   War Criminals
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LIB

Raymonde Folco

Liberal

Ms. Raymonde Folco (Laval West, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.

The United States have announced that they will challenge our dairy production system before the World Trade Organization, on the grounds that we subsidize our dairy product exports.

What measures will the minister take to protect Canada's dairy industry?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Dairy Industry
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LIB

Lyle Vanclief

Liberal

Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, first of all I would like to congratulate the member for her election to the House. I look forward to working with her which she has already shown enthusiasm to do.

The government and the dairy industry are already putting a strategy together to deal with the section 301 challenge that the United States has put on a track toward the WTO. If that challenge does go through the whole process and to a final panel, we will use those strategies to defend the dairy industry as we did in the NAFTA panel. I remind everyone Canada received a unanimous decision in our favour. We will again defend the Canadian dairy industry vigorously.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Dairy Industry
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REF

Rob Anders

Reform

Mr. Rob Anders (Calgary West, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, customs staff were pulled away from inspecting planes for drugs and contraband so that Federal Express shipments could be fast tracked. The Minister of National Revenue says that they want more facts. We have a statement on legal stationery confirming that Dennis Coffey will provide sworn evidence exactly to this effect.

How many kilos of cocaine and pounds of pot were smuggled into Canada because planes from Jamaica went uninspected?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   National Revenue
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LIB

Sue Barnes

Liberal

Mrs. Sue Barnes (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Revenue, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, Revenue Canada is responsible at the customs border points. Between the border points we have RCMP co-operation. A lot of our information is intelligence based. We work co-operatively on our anti-smuggling initiatives. There are money and resources behind this and Revenue Canada works on assessing high and low risk and will not be letting smugglers know how we do this in this House.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   National Revenue
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REF

Rob Anders

Reform

Mr. Rob Anders (Calgary West, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, speaking about higher risks, how about high priorities in terms of sisters of employees and whatnot making money on the taxpayer in that department?

We have learned that one of the top officials of the Minister of National Revenue is trying to gag Mr. Coffey, threatening him with disciplinary action and making these allegations public before the appeal board. In fact the government has the letter. We tabled it yesterday.

If Mr. Coffey's evidence is not true then why is the minister and his staff trying to shut out and shut up Mr. Coffey? Why are they doing that?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   National Revenue
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LIB

Sue Barnes

Liberal

Mrs. Sue Barnes (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Revenue, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I will reiterate and hopefully it will be clearer this time. The employee in question has filed an appeal with the Public Service Commission Appeal Board that he was inappropriately denied an acting appointment.

While this appeal is ongoing we will not be commenting on the particulars of this case no matter how many times members of the opposition ask.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   National Revenue
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NDP

Pat Martin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Pat Martin (Winnipeg Centre, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

In what the front page of the New York Times calls “a child labour victory”, the U.S. Congress is set to ban the importation of goods made by bondaged child labourers.

In light of the fact that there is an estimated 15 million children working in Southeast Asia and in light of the fact that the APEC conference seeks to increase our trade with these countries, will the minister use the weight of his office to pass comparable legislation that would outlaw the importation and sale of goods manufactured by child labour?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Labour
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LIB

Lloyd Axworthy

Liberal

Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, while I compliment the member on question, I would like to remind him that last year we set up a special fund to encourage Canadian enterprises and organizations to come forward with a series of initiatives to deal with the importation of products made by child labour.

Second, we are now working with the ILO to come up with a new draft convention dealing with children working in hazardous industries.

Third, as he probably knows, Canada is one of the few countries which has passed legislation that gives us the right to prosecute Canadian citizens who go abroad to exploit children.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Labour
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October 3, 1997