September 16, 2003

LIB

John Manley

Liberal

Hon. John Manley (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. member has trouble recognizing a good thing when he sees it.

Since the beginning of last year the Canadian economy has created over 600,000 jobs while at the same time the U.S. economy has lost over 900,000 jobs.

I might mention to the hon. member that the U.S. economy is 10 times larger than the Canadian economy and yet its job performance record is many times worse.

I think the fact is that we are in very good shape because of the prudent planning that was embodied in the February budget. We were in good shape to face even the emergencies that presented themselves unexpectedly to us this year.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   The Economy
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NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis

New Democratic Party

Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis (Winnipeg North Centre, NDP)

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

Today we learned that Onex Corporation is again looking to buy Air Canada; yes, the same Onex that is the biggest donor to the leadership campaign of the former finance minister. I guess it is buying a lot these days, including influence, which comes with a price tag of $173,000 and counting.

Will the Prime Minister ensure a tough new ethics package is in place before he leaves office or is he fine watching corporations getting into a bidding war to buy Paul Martin?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
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?

The Speaker

I suspect the hon. member meant the hon. member for LaSalle—Émard when she mentioned someone by name a moment ago. She knows it is quite wrong to refer to another hon. member, if that is what she was doing, by name. I would not want to presume. The hon. government House leader.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
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LIB

Don Boudria

Liberal

Hon. Don Boudria (Minister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to note the interest that the hon. member has in Bill C-34, the ethics bill.

As she will know the debate was concluded yesterday at report stage and second reading. The vote will occur later today. We are looking forward to enthusiastic support for that legislative measure.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
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NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis

New Democratic Party

Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis (Winnipeg North Centre, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I apologize for calling the member for LaSalle—Émard by his name.

Again, my question is for the Prime Minister. It is increasingly clear that the ad scandal in Quebec was designed to pump money into the Quebec Liberal Party coffers. Surely there are better ways to invest Canadian tax dollars than blowing them on the Quebec Liberal Party.

We need a public inquiry now. We need the mastermind of this scheme, Alfonso Gagliano, fired now.

Will the Prime Minister pick up the phone and tell Fonzy that his happy days in Denmark are done?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
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LIB

Ralph Goodale

Liberal

Hon. Ralph Goodale (Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the matters pertaining to the sponsorship issue are serious matters and they deserve serious attention from people like the Auditor General and investigators like the RCMP. These issues will not be resolved through glib one-liners.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
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CA

Jason Kenney

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Jason Kenney (Calgary Southeast, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, on January 31 of this year the foreign affairs minister said “We are making sure that Bill Sampson is well treated and that he has all rights available to him”.

We now know of course that nothing could have been further from the truth.

How can the minister explain the government's total incompetence in allowing a Canadian citizen to be brutally tortured while doing nothing to protect his rights?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Foreign Affairs
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LIB

Bill Graham

Liberal

Hon. Bill Graham (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member knows, this has been discussed in the House many times.

The hon. House leader went to see Prince Abdullah. I personally took a letter from the Prime Minister of Canada to the ruling royal family. We made representations. Hon. members on this side of the House personally intervened. Members of the opposition saw Mr. Sampson. We all made an effort to make sure that Mr. Sampson came back safely. We were assured by the royal family that he would be returned safely if we worked with them. We did. We brought him home. Let us let the results speak for themselves.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Foreign Affairs
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CA

Jason Kenney

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Jason Kenney (Calgary Southeast, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the minister has not noticed that he has not come home because of his disgust with the government's mistreatment of his case.

Is it not interesting that the opposition member who visited him seems to remember his claims of torture whereas the government House leader somehow seems to have forgotten it?

A couple of years ago the parliamentary secretary said that Mr. Sampson was not tortured or physically abused and that the government was confident that he would continue to receive due process. Some due process.

I simply want to know why the government covered for the Saudi regime. Has the government apologized to Bill Sampson for not protecting his rights?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Foreign Affairs
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LIB

Bill Graham

Liberal

Hon. Bill Graham (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the government did not cover for the Saudi regime. The government acted in a way which ensured the safety of Mr. Sampson in a very difficult situation. Mr. Sampson returned. He left Saudi Arabia. I remind members of the House that he had a sentence of execution against him. That sentence might have been carried out. We acted in a responsible way to ensure that it was not.

I think it is very unwise of hon. members opposite to now seek to rewrite history for the sake of pure cheap politics.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Foreign Affairs
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BQ

Paul Crête

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Paul Crête (Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Industry told us that he would ensure that Shire respects all its commitments following the closure of BioChem Pharma in Laval, but he refuses to make these commitments public.

Is the minister prepared to demand, as compensation for Shire's failure to honour its commitment, that the company give up intellectual property rights to the research projects, which are not a priority for it, in order to help BioChem Pharma get back on its feet?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   BioChem Pharma
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LIB

Allan Rock

Liberal

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Industry, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I invite the hon. member to examine the federal law on this matter. It is clear that the commitments are confidential for now. We cannot disclose them.

At the same time, we have certain rights and powers under the law. We intend to use them to ensure that the company honours all its commitments.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   BioChem Pharma
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BQ

Paul Crête

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Paul Crête (Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, I think that the hon. minister must adjust his attitude and allow the relaunch of BioChem Pharma by promoters associated with the researchers who were laid off.

The minister has enough tools to do the job. In this context, how does he intend to use federal legislation to save BioChem Pharma?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   BioChem Pharma
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LIB

Allan Rock

Liberal

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Industry, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, as I have already stated, my concern is to ensure that all commitments are honoured. If there is a way to save the company, I am sure that private enterprise will find it. To my knowledge, the people in Montreal involved in this matter are working to see that all possibilities are examined.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   BioChem Pharma
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CA

Brian Pallister

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Brian Pallister (Portage—Lisgar, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the HRDC minister went into damage control mode and tried to deflect blame for the most recent boondoggle instalment rather than accepting personal responsibility.

According to her, and I quote:

In any organization, there are a few bad apples.

Given her party's current situation, she should know. It is pretty sad when the captain of a sinking ship wants to be first on the lifeboat. What ever happened to ministerial accountability?

If the minister is not responsible for the conduct of her employees, who is?

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, perhaps I will just take this opportunity to remind the hon. member of what we have done.

We received information from the police that some of our employees might be involved in an investigation. At that point we conducted our own investigation. We examined our files. We called in forensic auditors. We called in the RCMP. We have taken severe disciplinary action, including firing.

It is our obligation to make sure that those who choose to work outside the rules face the consequences, and that is what we are doing here.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Human Resources Development
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CA

Brian Pallister

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Brian Pallister (Portage—Lisgar, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, none of that is attributable to the internal work of department. The credit belongs to the Toronto municipal police force here.

This is her failed $50 million plan we are talking about. This is her department and her responsibility but it is not her money. It belongs to Canadians and Canadians deserve honest answers to clear questions.

Let me ask a simple question. Boondoggle 2: how much money is involved and how many employees?

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, I take full responsibility to work with the police to ensure that those who are cheating the system are caught and that the full impact of the law is placed on them.

As I said yesterday, the police have asked us not to share any further details so as not to jeopardize their investigation. Surely the hon. member would want to make sure that all charges are laid as appropriate.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Human Resources Development
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LIB

David Pratt

Liberal

Mr. David Pratt (Nepean—Carleton, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of National Defence.

The second largest deployment of Canadian Forces is currently engaged in fighting forest fires in British Columbia. With these fires largely under control, could the minister advise the House how much longer the forces will continue their firefighting efforts in B.C.?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   National Defence
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LIB

John McCallum

Liberal

Hon. John McCallum (Minister of National Defence, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, because of an improvement in conditions in British Columbia, I am pleased to announce that the Government of B.C. and the Canadian Forces have agreed that military firefighting assistance will end today.

I have observed the soldiers at work. It is difficult work. Generally they go out in teams of two, one with a hose and one with a pick axe.

I know that the whole House would want to join me in thanking the more than 2,600 reservists and regular forces for a job extremely well done.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   National Defence
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September 16, 2003