February 13, 2004

BQ

Marcel Gagnon

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Marcel Gagnon (Champlain, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, the 24th edition of the Cégeps en spectacle local finals at the Collège de Shawinigan has been a great success. More than 40 young people trod the boards of the auditorium, dancing, playing music, singing and juggling.

The judges, including actor Robert Brouillette, winner of the 1984 finals, were won over by three creative numbers in singing, music and dancing. Singer-songwriter-performer Lillianne Pellerin took first prize. Many volunteers contributed to the success of this cultural event, onstage and backstage, even operating the lights.

Many new talents have been discovered through this competition, including Sylvain Cossette, Denis Trudel, Jean-François Bastien. Cégeps en spectacle will continue to be a life changing and unforgettable experience for many generations of students.

Congratulations for 25 talented years of Cégeps en spectacle.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Cégeps en spectacle
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LIB

Don Boudria

Liberal

Hon. Don Boudria (Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, this Sunday, February 15, is the 39th anniversary of the Canadian flag. This distinctive emblem is recognized the world over. It is a symbol of Canadian identity and a source of pride for every one of us.

On February 15, 1965, at the stroke of noon, the national flag of Canada was raised for the first time, right here on Parliament Hill. The Speaker of the Senate at that time said this:

The flag is the symbol of the nation's unity, for it, beyond any doubt, represents all the citizens of Canada without distinction of race, language, belief or opinion.

These words are just as meaningful today as they were then.

I hope that all Canadians will get together to celebrate Canada's flag on Sunday and will start planning even bigger and better celebrations for the 40th anniversary next year, on February 15, 2005.

Long live Canada.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Canadian Flag
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CA

Gerry Ritz

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Gerry Ritz (Battlefords—Lloydminster, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, it is Friday the 13th, but the Liberal Party must feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day . Every morning, the same headlines proclaim its faults, and everyday it stumbles into a fresh gopher hole.

The Prime Minister claims to be a fresh face, but as fast as he blames his predecessor for scandals he signed off on, he sets a speed record for invoking closure to get the same old bills back on the Order Paper.

Platitudes concerning the democratic deficit are trumped by its actions once in power; a Liberal trademark.

On this unlucky day we are again reminded of billion dollar job creation schemes that instead created bankruptcies, billion dollar gun registry schemes that instead created a safe environment for criminals, and of course, a $3 billion Kyoto environmental scheme that has no plan.

We are also reminded of how true to form it is for Liberals to say one thing: encourage more women to run for Parliament and then do the other; encourage their attack dogs to eliminate the women they do not like.

If the Prime Minister gets through this day, I would suggest he go to Hamilton, on bended knee, on Valentine's Day and make up with his former--

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Liberal Party of Canada
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The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Perth--Middlesex.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Liberal Party of Canada
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PC

Gary Schellenberger

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Gary Schellenberger (Perth—Middlesex, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, yesterday morning it was my great pleasure to sponsor a meeting concerning the Stratford Festival of Canada.

The Stratford Festival employs some 700 people and is responsible for contributing $125 million to the economy. The festival is world famous for its excellence in presenting Shakespearian classics and has taken a leadership role in offering new works illustrating the cultural mosaic of Canada.

The festival is truly a national performing arts organization. The stages at Stratford also serve to train young emerging Canadian actors and playwrights and prepare them for careers.

The federal government's matching endowment program is a very important and appreciated source of funding.

I want to thank the MPs representing multiple parties who took time out of their busy schedules to discuss this great Canadian institution.

I am proud to have the Stratford Festival of Canada located in the heart of my riding of Perth--Middlesex.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Stratford Festival
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PC

Peter MacKay

Progressive Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister, despite his denials, was made aware of the mismanagement of the sponsorship program two years ago in a letter that came from the Liberal Party policy chair. True to form, he did nothing. He blamed an uneasy relationship with the former prime minister. In other words, he was competing for his boss's job and it made things a little uncomfortable, causing tension.

Why was the Prime Minister's personal ambition and rush to get to 24 Sussex put ahead of taxpayers' trust?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
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LIB

Ralph Goodale

Liberal

Hon. Ralph Goodale (Minister of Finance, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister said yesterday that the gravity of the situation began to emerge in the early part of 2002.

Mr. Maharaj's letter was written in February 2002. The Groupaction matter was referred to the Auditor General in March. She reported in May and then proceeded to her more detailed examination. Obviously that is completely consistent with what the Prime Minister described yesterday.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
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PC

Peter MacKay

Progressive Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, the more the Prime Minister claims he knew nothing, the more incompetent he looks. Was he on top of his department? Was he looking out for taxpayers' money? Or was he shamelessly working to get the prime minister's job? It appears that this political ambition, this naked ambition, took precedence over anything else.

The Liberal friendly firms that received millions of dollars in taxpayers' money were working for the Liberal Party. If the Prime Minister is serious about getting the money back, will the Liberal Party coffers pay that money back to the taxpayers and then will they go after those crooked firms?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
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LIB

Ralph Goodale

Liberal

Hon. Ralph Goodale (Minister of Finance, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, in the announcements the Prime Minister made on Tuesday he indicated that we have already appointed a special legal counsel for the recovery of money. The credentials of Monsieur André Gauthier are absolutely above reproach. He has the full authority to follow the money trail wherever that trail may lead.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
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PC

Peter MacKay

Progressive Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, those promises are about as thin and flexible as Flat Mark.

Crown corporation heads may roll, according to the Prime Minister. Among those on the chopping block should be BDC President Michel Vennat, who was part of a well orchestrated smear campaign against the former president, François Beaudoin.

A Superior Court judge said Beaudoin suffered “unspeakable injustice”, and Vennat's evidence at trial was rejected.

Will the Prime Minister ensure that a public inquiry will include in the terms of reference a review of the Auberge Grand-Mère file and, in the meantime, will they fire BDC President Michel Vennat?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
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LIB

Ralph Goodale

Liberal

Hon. Ralph Goodale (Minister of Finance, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, in addition to the very broad terms for the public inquiry, the Prime Minister has already asked the President of the Treasury Board to examine into all matters related to crown corporations. As members of the House will know, the President of the Treasury Board is a very determined individual.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
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CA

Monte Solberg

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Monte Solberg (Medicine Hat, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, we will find out about that.

Alfonso Gagliano is not the only high profile Liberal to come under the scrutiny of the Auditor General. The Auditor General also rips Canada Post for its role in the Liberal Party's dash for taxpayers' cash.

If Gagliano was fired for cause, my question is, why are there no consequences at all for André Ouellet, the head hack at Canada Post?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
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LIB

Stephen Owen

Liberal

Hon. Stephen Owen (Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, as we have been saying throughout this week, we are putting in place disciplined processes to come to grips with whoever may be culpable or be responsible for this mismanagement of public funds.

We are not going to determine that in the House. The appropriate place to determine responsibility, guilt, innocence and the ability to recover money is in the disciplined processes that have been established.

Any evidence against these gentlemen or anybody else should be brought to the public inquiry for people to give evidence under oath. They can also go to the public accounts committee, which is already sitting and looking into these matters. That is where it should rest.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
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CA

Monte Solberg

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Monte Solberg (Medicine Hat, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, the government was very quick to pull the trigger on Gagliano, which we applaud, but why has it not done the same with André Ouellet? All the government has to do is look in the Auditor General's report. It is very clear.

André Ouellet ran the Liberal Party in Quebec for many years. He was even public works minister for a while. Now he is up to his ears in this scandal at Canada Post. If Gagliano was canned for his role in all of this, why is André Ouellet still pulling down $300,000 a year at Canada Post?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
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LIB

Stan Keyes

Liberal

Hon. Stan Keyes (Minister of National Revenue and Minister of State (Sport), Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, as the minister responsible for Canada Post, I can assure the hon. member that it has been made clear by the Prime Minister that whether it is André Ouellet or any other lead in any crown corporation with the Government of Canada, they will be appearing before the public accounts committee or they will be called before the public inquiry. And they have no option. They must appear.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
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BQ

Caroline St-Hilaire

Bloc Québécois

Ms. Caroline St-Hilaire (Longueuil, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister swore with his hand on his heart that the public had the right to know how long he had known that confidence in him was at stake. He even solemnly declared that he became fully aware just this week, with the Auditor General's report, of the extent of the sponsorship scandal.

How can the Prime Minister, who was aware of the sponsorship scandal since February 2002 at least, as a letter that the Liberal Party policy chair sent him clearly shows, think today that he deserves—

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
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The Deputy Speaker

I regret to interrupt the hon. member, but her time is up. The hon. Minister of Finance.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
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LIB

Ralph Goodale

Liberal

Hon. Ralph Goodale (Minister of Finance, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, to repeat, the Prime Minister said yesterday that the gravity of the situation, going beyond merely administrative matters, began to emerge in the early part of 2002. That is when the letter in question was written, in February, I believe. The Groupaction matter was referred to the Auditor General in March. She began her investigation in April. She completed and reported the investigation in May and then she proceeded to her larger examination. Obviously this matter has been pursued very assiduously since then.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
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BQ

Caroline St-Hilaire

Bloc Québécois

Ms. Caroline St-Hilaire (Longueuil, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, in February 2002, Mr. Maharaj indicated in his letter to the Prime Minister that funds from the sponsorship program had been diverted for partisan reasons through communications firms associated with the Liberal Party of Canada.

Will the minister admit that the letter is quite clear about the extent of the sponsorship scandal and that, as a result, his Prime Minister knew about it since February 2002 at least, but he did nothing? So much for confidence.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
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LIB

Ralph Goodale

Liberal

Hon. Ralph Goodale (Minister of Finance, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, indeed, in the early part of 2002 the government began to take the decisive action that was required. That included the reference to the Auditor General. She conducted her inquiry in April and May. She reported in May.

In May she indicated she would go further, referring some matters to the RCMP and conducting a government-wide examination of sponsorship and advertising issues. The Government of Canada cooperated every step of the way with the Auditor General to make sure that she could do her job properly.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
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February 13, 2004