October 7, 1997

?

The Speaker

The hon. Leader of the Opposition.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Auditor General's Report
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REF

Preston Manning

Reform

Mr. Preston Manning (Calgary Southwest, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, when TAGS was created, members will remember the former Minister of Fisheries and Oceans stood in the House to say that only one-third of the expenditure was to go to income support. That was the basis on which parliament gave the money.

According to the auditor general's report today, fully 76% of the TAGS money went to income support and none of the program objectives were achieved.

Now that the auditor general has exposed TAGS as a costly failure, will the Prime Minister pledge to the House that he will not extend this wasteful, dependency creating program?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Auditor General's Report
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LIB

Jean Chrétien

Liberal

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, to call giving money to poor fishermen who cannot go to sea a waste of money is completely unacceptable.

One of the benefits of living in a federation is that we can help those people who live in areas where there are problems. Everyone recognizes that the fishermen in Newfoundland and in other Atlantic provinces have faced very difficult problems over the last few years.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Auditor General's Report
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REF

Preston Manning

Reform

Mr. Preston Manning (Calgary Southwest, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, what the fishermen of Atlantic Canada wanted and what parliament voted on when it voted to support the program was money for training and restructuring of the industry, and they got neither of those through the TAGS program.

The auditor general said that the government started implementing the program before it had finished the planning, that parliament was not given accurate progress reports, that the department did not have reliable data, and that other alternatives which would not have created dependency were not even considered.

How could the House regard the government's claim to be accountable as anything other than a big fish story?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Auditor General's Report
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LIB

Jean Chrétien

Liberal

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, it is very sad when a leader of an opposition party makes fun of a difficult problem.

I do not think I should comment further when the Leader of the Opposition has no consideration for the misery suffered by anyone in the land.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Auditor General's Report
Permalink
REF

John Williams

Reform

Mr. John Williams (St. Albert, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, taxpayers have been taken for a sucker once more. In the auditor general's report tabled today we find that the government sold Nav Canada for $1 billion less than its value.

My question is for the Minister of Finance. Why, when he is squeezing every last nickel out of employers, employees, taxpayers and retirees, did he give a $1 billion break to Nav Canada?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Auditor General's Report
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LIB

David Collenette

Liberal

Hon. David M. Collenette (Minister of Transport, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the government estimated the net worth of the air navigation system as did those negotiating on behalf of Nav Canada.

In any deal no one expects to get their own financial adviser's top dollar. This was a good deal that reflected a negotiated compromise.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Auditor General's Report
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REF

John Williams

Reform

Mr. John Williams (St. Albert, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, the minister is not telling us that the adviser to the government was also the adviser to Nav Canada and Nav Canada got by far the best deal.

We paid millions of dollars to lose a billion dollars. I want to know when it was the government's policy to approve conflict of interest sole source contracts that cost the taxpayer a billion dollars.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Auditor General's Report
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LIB

David Collenette

Liberal

Hon. David M. Collenette (Minister of Transport, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I think we have to keep in mind that at the time of the sale the viability of the air navigation system as a not for profit entity relied heavily on fluctuating interest rates. It relied on credit ratings which were creating a serious concern as to whether or not the new entity could actually raise the money. That is why the government moved in this direction.

With respect to the question of advisers, the advisers were retained in accordance with normal Treasury Board guidelines.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Auditor General's Report
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BQ

Gilles Duceppe

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier—Sainte-Marie, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, on four separate occasions, the Prime Minister was asked what action he had taken after being advised of allegations of influence peddling within the Liberal Party of Canada, he repeated each time that his minister had done his duty in following instructions.

My simple and direct question to the Prime Minister, who likes clear questions, is as follows: What did he personally do to protect his government's integrity and that of his ministers once he was made aware of the fact that a fundraiser for the Liberal Party of Canada was peddling influence to businesses that had applied for grants?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Rcmp Investigations
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LIB

Jean Chrétien

Liberal

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I will repeat at this time that there is a police investigation under way and we will wait to see what comes of it. Whether there has been wrongdoing or not will be determined after the police has conducted its investigation.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Rcmp Investigations
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BQ

Gilles Duceppe

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier—Sainte-Marie, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, we know that there is an investigation under way.

What I am asking the Prime Minister is what he did, what action he has taken, since his minister took action. Did he, personally or through his chief of staff, on the eve of a general election in Canada, remind his ministers of the directives on influence peddling issued within his government? Is that what he did or did he tour Quebec with individuals who were involved in influence peddling instead?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Rcmp Investigations
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LIB

Jean Chrétien

Liberal

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, it is in fact because we have given and continue to give ministers advice on this issue on a regular basis that the minister acted on this swiftly. Only hours after being informed, he immediately called in the RCMP to conduct a proper investigation.

The instructions were clear. They were understood by the ministers. I regularly remind them that it is imperative that they follow all instructions issued to them on their conduct in their official capacity.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Rcmp Investigations
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BQ

Michel Gauthier

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs recently suspended an aide involved in a controversial issue, until the investigation into his conduct is completed, in compliance with the spirit of the government's code of conduct.

My question is for the Prime Minister. Why, in the case involving influence peddling, did the Prime Minister not act like his Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and comply with the government's code of conduct by suspending the person suspected of wrongdoing until all the facts were known?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Rcmp Investigations
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?

The Speaker

The question as asked is out of order.

They must go to the administrative responsibility of the person involved. This has to do in my view with a party matter as opposed to another matter. I will go to the second question.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Rcmp Investigations
Permalink
BQ

Michel Gauthier

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval, BQ)

I apologize, Mr. Speaker, but my question is for the Prime Minister and concerns his compliance with the government's code of conduct. With all due respect, I will put the question to the Prime Minister rather clearly, so everyone can understand what it is about, given that I have only one question.

I am asking the Prime Minister to tell us why his ministers comply with the government's code of conduct, but not him, since he left a person strongly suspected of influence peddling mingle with Liberal Party members and ministers.

I think the Prime Minister has a duty to respond.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Rcmp Investigations
Permalink
?

The Speaker

I will allow the Prime Minister to respond because the question is on the code of conduct.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Rcmp Investigations
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LIB

Jean Chrétien

Liberal

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the code of conduct applies to the government and to public servants.

In this specific case, the investigation concerns an organization that is not part of the government. It is a political organization. Moreover, in the case of the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, the person involved admitted he had made a mistake and the code of conduct was immediately applied because that person was an employee accountable to the minister and to the government.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Rcmp Investigations
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NDP

Alexa McDonough

New Democratic Party

Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister.

Canadian analysts including Wood Gundy's chief economist charge that the government's endorsement of last week's interest rate hike is “like waging war on yesterday's problem”. It is predicted that as many as 500,000 jobs will be lost if the government continues on its current path.

When will the Prime Minister show some leadership, start to live up to his campaign commitment and tell his finance minister to stop killing jobs?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Employment
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LIB

Paul Martin

Liberal

Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, everything the government has done since it took office, whether it be re-establishing the credibility of government to bring interest rates down, keeping inflation low, investing in research and development or investing in youth employment, has been directed to the one aim of giving Canadians an opportunity for a better quality of life and greater job creation.

Since we have taken office over a million jobs have been created in the private sector. It is very clear that the policies we have put in place have worked.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Employment
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October 7, 1997