February 28, 2000

LIB

Jean Chrétien

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, what I said was that out of the $200 million, there are $33 million, or 37 files, that pose a problem. Out of these 37 files—I believe four have yet to be reviewed—payments totalling $6,000 were found not to have been justified. That is what I said.

As for the investigations, if there are other cases, if there are people who violated the law and committed criminal acts, the police—

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Human Resources Development
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?

The Speaker

The hon. leader of the Bloc Quebecois.

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Subtopic:   Human Resources Development
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BQ

Gilles Duceppe

Bloc Québécois

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

Mr. Speaker, what is of concern is the fact that the three cases that I submitted are not included in the 37 cases referred to by the Prime Minister. Two of these are being investigated by the mounted police, as the Prime Minister says. I find this worrisome. I am concerned that the scope of the problem is being discovered bit by bit.

Is it not time to hold a public inquiry into what is going on in Saint-Maurice, the Prime Minister's riding, because we learn new things every day and it appears the end is not in sight?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Human Resources Development
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LIB

Jean Chrétien

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, people can make insinuations. It is like the request approved by the member for Rosemont. That request was never approved by my office. No one in my office was informed of that request.

Perhaps something is not normal, but I know that, as regards the riding of Saint-Maurice, no one in my office was informed of the request made previously and approved by the member for Rosemont.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Human Resources Development
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BQ

Bernard Bigras

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Bernard Bigras (Rosemont, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, in a press release issued 9 p.m. Friday, the department announced that it was engaging a Toronto firm to investigate the Rosemont case and giving it one week to submit its report. What this boils down to is the government having itself investigated by a firm of its choosing. A sham investigation.

If this not a good old Liberal method of burying embarrassing affairs?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Human Resources Development
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LIB

Jane Stewart

Liberal

Hon. Jane Stewart (Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is totally incorrect. What we have done is look at the files. The officials have identified this particular undertaking as being very complex and as such have asked for the services of an outside forensic audit team to go through all aspects of this file.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Human Resources Development
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BQ

Bernard Bigras

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Bernard Bigras (Rosemont, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, last week, the Minister of Human Resources Development said that the company had moved to Shawinigan because there were no sites available in Rosemont. But there are charges filed against 3393062 Canada Inc. showing that there were indeed sites.

What is the truth of the matter? Was the minister in the dark or did she once again not tell the House the whole story?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Human Resources Development
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LIB

Jane Stewart

Liberal

Hon. Jane Stewart (Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, we have multiple representations from the individuals involved in this file. As I say again, it is extremely complex. The right thing to do was to call in an outside forensic audit team to do an investigation of all the aspects of this file. That is being done and we will take action on its findings.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Human Resources Development
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NDP

Svend Robinson

New Democratic Party

Mr. Svend J. Robinson (Burnaby—Douglas, NDP)

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

In September 1998 the Prime Minister bragged in the House that nobody had asked him to appear before the APEC inquiry. In November he said “I want the commission to ask all the questions of anybody whom it wants to interview”.

Now that Commissioner Hughes has invited him to appear, will the Prime Minister let the inquiry do its work? Will the Prime Minister stop stonewalling and finally come clean with Canadians about his role at the APEC summit and accept the commissioner's invitation to appear before the commission?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Apec Inquiry
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LIB

Jean Chrétien

Liberal

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

First, Mr. Speaker, the judge said “I simply cannot see that the voluminous evidence to date points to or suggests that the Prime Minister may have given improper orders or direction to RCMP members respecting security at the APEC conference”.

As he does not need me and as he has all the facts, he asked if I wanted to go there. I looked at that possibility. Only two prime ministers have been before an inquiry: Sir John A. Macdonald more than 100 years ago and Prime Minister Trudeau in camera on national security. The precedents are very clear and I do not want to create a precedent that might cause problems for my successors.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Apec Inquiry
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NDP

Svend Robinson

New Democratic Party

Mr. Svend J. Robinson (Burnaby—Douglas, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is showing absolute contempt for the Hughes commission. The same Prime Minister said in November that the government was willing to help the commission as much as it wants because it had nothing to hide.

If the Prime Minister really has nothing to hide, and if he refuses to appear before the Hughes commission, will he at least agree to appear before the foreign affairs committee of the House to answer questions about his role in the violent assault on the basic charter rights of the students who were protesting peacefully at the APEC summit?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Apec Inquiry
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LIB

Jean Chrétien

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I am in the House of Commons every week. You can ask me any question and I will reply to these questions. I have never run away and never been afraid of any question from this member of parliament.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Apec Inquiry
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?

The Speaker

Please address all questions and responses through the Speaker.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Apec Inquiry
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PC

Peter MacKay

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, PC)

Mr. Speaker, of the small sample of grants examined by the HRDC audit, the Prime Minister's low ball figures of mismanagement have inflated from $243 to a whopping $4.5 million. We know of at least three RCMP investigations in the jobs grants scandal.

Could the Prime Minister tell the House when these investigations began and if he is aware of any investigations pending or any more investigations coming up?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Human Resources Development
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LIB

Jean Chrétien

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I know the RCMP has been advised that there was an accusation of some wrongdoing with one file. As soon as my office was informed of that, the RCMP was informed within minutes. The RCMP will do its job well, as is well known in Canada.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Human Resources Development
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PC

Peter MacKay

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, PC)

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has tried to minimize this scandal from the beginning, but the evidence of mismanagement is mounting.

The government would have Canadians believe that it blew the whistle on itself by calling the RCMP to investigate HRDC. The minister herself would also have us believe that she was first made aware of the audit in November.

What new evidence came to the minister's attention that led her to call in the RCMP?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Human Resources Development
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LIB

Jane Stewart

Liberal

Hon. Jane Stewart (Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, let us be clear. The audit talked about seven large programs in my department and said that we could improve our administrative practices. We have made that information public to Canadians. We are now implementing a program that will fix the problem.

That is what Canadians are asking us to do. They have quite clearly been able to separate politics from substance and are saying “Would you please fix the problem”. We will.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Human Resources Development
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REF

Diane Ablonczy

Reform

Mrs. Diane Ablonczy (Calgary—Nose Hill, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, I hate to have to be in a position of instructing the Prime Minister on the history of his own party, but the name of the Liberal Party prior to 1867 was the Reform Party of Upper Canada.

According to reports, on February 2 the PMO contacted the RCMP because over $100,000 may have been misappropriated. We have to wonder why the Prime Minister has spent the last three weeks in the House telling Canadians that the problem involved a mere $256.50.

Why does the Liberal government insult Canadians with attempts to downplay a billion dollar boondoggle while taxpayers are continuing to be ripped off?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Human Resources Development
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LIB

Jane Stewart

Liberal

Hon. Jane Stewart (Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, what is an insult to Canadians is what was said by the leader of that party in his opening question when he talked about wasting money. What he is saying is that it is a waste of money to support Canadians with disabilities. What he is saying is that it is waste of money to help Canadian youth who have not been able to find that very important first job. What he is saying is that it is a waste of money to help Canadians who do not have the opportunity to work while our economy is improving. That is the insult.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Human Resources Development
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REF

Diane Ablonczy

Reform

Mrs. Diane Ablonczy (Calgary—Nose Hill, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, shame on this minister for trying to bluster her way out of her incompetence.

It is becoming painfully obvious that it is open season for waste, fraud and abuse of tax dollars from Ottawa. An audit says that at least $1 billion was shockingly mismanaged by the minister. A grant approved for one riding mysteriously turned up in the Prime Minister's riding. The minister's explanation is completely contradicted by the grant recipient. Now $100,000 may have been skimmed from yet another grant in the Prime Minister's riding.

Are Canadians to believe that the red flags flying over public moneys going into Shawinigan are just pure coincidence?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Human Resources Development
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February 28, 2000