February 13, 2004

BQ

Benoît Sauvageau

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Benoît Sauvageau (Repentigny, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, a LPC national chair confirmed, in his letter of February 2002 to the current Prime Minister, that already in December 2001, the party was talking of nothing but the sponsorship program and that he had received countless e-mail messages condemning the diversion of public funds to communications firms with ties to the Liberal Party.

How can the Prime Minister continue to maintain that he was completely unaware of this problem when the LPC hierarchy at all levels could talk of nothing else?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
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LIB

Ralph Goodale

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, beginning with the work of the Auditor General that I have referred to earlier, there was additional action taken at the time. As the hon. gentleman will recall, the program was frozen. The private agencies were fired. The cases were referred to the RCMP. There was full, ongoing disclosure made to the Auditor General. Forensic experts were called in. The no-value flowthroughs to the crown corporations were stopped. We yanked some $3 million back from many of the impugned firms.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
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BQ

Benoît Sauvageau

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Benoît Sauvageau (Repentigny, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, how can the Prime Minister continue to maintain that he knew nothing about the sponsorship scandal, when even the Minister of Finance has just told us everything his party did?

This is outrageous, and the Prime Minister must tell us what he knew and when he became aware of it.

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 indicated that the fact that this matter went beyond mere administrative complaints or problems was coming to everybody's attention in the early months of 2002. The letter from Mr. Maharaj was part of that, as were the other public stories that were circulating.

The decisive information became available when the Auditor General was called in by the government. She then began to reveal the magnitude of scope of the issue, and decisive action--

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
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?

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Winnipeg--Transcona.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
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NDP

Bill Blaikie

New Democratic Party

Mr. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg—Transcona, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, they say that breaking up is hard to do. It has been an emotional week for everyone: Paul and Jean, Ken and Barbie. And I think that Ken and Barbie managed to break up with more dignity than the Prime Minister and the former prime minister.

I am more concerned, as we all should be, with the future to some degree. I want to ask the Minister of Finance about the possibility of future scandals as a result of the increasingly incestuous relationship between corporate lobbyists and the Prime Minister's Office.

I wonder if the Minister of Finance could tell us what the government is going to do about all the corporate lobbyists in the Prime Minister's Office. Is it not time that they hit the road, so to speak, so we do not have to worry about them being paid off in the future?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Lobbyists
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LIB

Ralph Goodale

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister indicated earlier this week, as he has throughout his political career, that he expects all of those who are associated with him to abide by the highest possible standards and we will all do our best to live up to those standards.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Lobbyists
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NDP

Bill Blaikie

New Democratic Party

Mr. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg—Transcona, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, we do not know what those standards are because there are no standards with respect to how corporate lobbyists ought to relate to the Prime Minister's Office. They go in and out on a regular basis. It is like a revolving door. This is a cause for concern. The rules that apply to former civil servants do not seem to apply to corporate lobbyists.

I am asking the Minister of Finance, is he not concerned about this? Because if he is not, he should be. Will the government provide some rules for how these people should conduct themselves? Just telling us they are a bunch of great guys is not enough.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Lobbyists
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LIB

Ralph Goodale

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, there are indeed codes of conduct that need to be adhered to. If the hon. gentleman has a specific example to give me or a specific complaint that he would like me to follow up, I undertake that I will do that.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Lobbyists
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CA

Rahim Jaffer

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Rahim Jaffer (Edmonton—Strathcona, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, we now learn that the sponsorship scandal continues to spread throughout the whole government. We have learned that companies involved in the scam have given money for the election campaigns of the health minister and the government House leader.

I want to know, in the spirit of openness and transparency, whether the Prime Minister will suspend these cabinet ministers during the public inquiry?

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, donations to political parties and to political candidates are made on all sides of the House.

What the government has done, through its recent political financing legislation, is to significantly reduce almost to nothing the amount that corporate interests can give to political financing. Those donations are a matter of public record for members of all parties. That does not necessarily connect it to money that comes out of the sponsorship program.

However, if people have--

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

The hon. member for Edmonton—Strathcona.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
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CA

Rahim Jaffer

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Rahim Jaffer (Edmonton—Strathcona, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Prime Minister said the real question was, what happened to the people who received the money? Some of those people are still sitting in his cabinet. Some of their campaigns received money from those sleazy Liberal ad firms.

Will the Prime Minister take action against his members or ministers who received this money, that was stolen from the public, through this scandal and funneled through their campaigns? Yes or no.

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, this is going to a very low level of reasonableness. No connection has been shown between donations given to members of this party and sponsorship moneys.

If there is evidence of that, let us bring it forth to the inquiry. Let us give under oath the evidence we have. Let us have it looked at carefully. If there is evidence of that, bring it forward. That is why we have set up these processes. Let us get to the truth.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
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CA

Diane Ablonczy

Canadian Alliance

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

Mr. Speaker, in 2000 the Liberals told Parliament the sponsorship program was managed with prudence and probity. That was a crock.

The Auditor General found that Parliament was misinformed about how the program was being managed. The Liberal minister signed a false report, misled Parliament, and was clearly in contempt of the House.

The Liberals have had the Auditor General's findings for months, but only now do they suddenly pledge to hold wrongdoers accountable. Why did it take a wave of public outrage for them to spring into action?

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, it was not a wave of public outrage. It was knowledge and action within the government that led to the first decision of the government, on December 13, to cancel the sponsorship program because of the problems that had been indicated.

After that, we set up a whole series of processes by working with the Auditor General, tabling her report before the House, and putting together a series of processes probably unparalleled in Canadian political history in terms of public accounts, independent investigations--

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

The hon. member for Calgary—Nose Hill.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
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CA

Diane Ablonczy

Canadian Alliance

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

Mr. Speaker, hiding the truth from Canadians seems to be routine with these Liberals.

A year ago another Liberal minister was condemned by our courts for--surprise--misleading Parliament. As a reward, he has now risen to the post of president of the Queen's Privy Council. Then there is the Liberal minister who for two years hid from Parliament the fact that the gun registry had become a billion dollar quagmire. She is now Deputy Prime Minister.

Have Liberals kept quiet for months about sponsorship sleaze because so many ministers also have dirty hands?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
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LIB

Ralph Goodale

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I would remind the hon. member that decisive action on this file was taken throughout 2002 and 2003. I would remind her that the program was frozen. I would remind her that the advertising agencies were fired. I would remind her that a number of cases were referred to the RCMP.

I would remind her that there was full and complete disclosure to the Auditor General. I would remind her that forensic experts were called in to help evaluate the files, and that the no value flow throughs to the crown corporations were stopped and that $3 million was held back as a safeguard for the public.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
Permalink
BQ

Monique Guay

Bloc Québécois

Ms. Monique Guay (Laurentides, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the letter the senior executive of the Liberal Party of Canada wrote to the Prime Minister was to tell him that funds had been misappropriated and, as finance minister and senior minister from Quebec, he had the ability to do something about it.

When a minister, now Prime Minister, knows something, has the ability to do something about it and deliberately does not act, then he is either guilty or complicit. Which is it?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
Permalink

February 13, 2004