February 18, 2004

?

The Speaker

It is Wednesday, but perhaps we could get through a couple of questions before bedlam. The hon. Leader of the Opposition has the floor. We will want to hear the next question.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Sponsorship Program
Permalink
CA

Grant Hill

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Grant Hill (Leader of the Opposition, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I guess it is very interesting who will determine what is pertinent.

To my specific question now. There was an ad hoc communications committee. On that committee: will those secret documents be released to the public accounts committee?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Sponsorship Program
Permalink
LIB

Paul Martin

Liberal

Right Hon. Paul Martin (Prime Minister, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I am certainly prepared to enquire. The use of the word “pertinent” was that I thought there was a specific issue the member was directing himself to. If he would like, I will ask if we could have documents related to the first and the second world wars and the Korean war.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Sponsorship Program
Permalink
CA

Grant Hill

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Grant Hill (Macleod, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I am certain that the Canadian public is going to be happy with an answer like that to the taxpayers' funding that they have taken away.

To another specific question. The Treasury Board minutes, those minutes that discussed this issue, will they be released when the public accounts committee asks for those minutes?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Sponsorship Program
Permalink
LIB

Paul Martin

Liberal

Right Hon. Paul Martin (Prime Minister, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member knows, documents of this kind belong to the previous government and it is only up to the previous government to see if permission can be given.

We have sought that permission, which is why I was able to answer in the affirmative to the hon. member's question, and I am certainly prepared to seek that permission. As far as this government is concerned, we are prepared to be totally open, totally transparent, and to lay everything on the table that can be laid on it.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Sponsorship Program
Permalink
PC

Peter MacKay

Progressive Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, it is the same government, obviously.

In 1994, the Prime Minister's executive assistant sent a memo to officials stating that the then finance minister hoped a number of Liberal-friendly ad firms would be added to the government's list. Among them was Claude Boulay's Groupe Everest, the same firm named as a huge beneficiary of Liberal largesse by the Auditor General.

If the Prime Minister was willing to recommend Mr. Boulay's firm and give it a recommendation for its work in 1994, how can he possibly say he knew nothing of its shady actions 10 years later?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
Permalink
LIB

Paul Martin

Liberal

Right Hon. Paul Martin (Prime Minister, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I would be delighted in fact to have that memo tabled. What it said was that it agreed with the suggestion from someone else and then went on to say that we wanted it all to be on a competitive basis, we wanted everything to be tendered, and there was a list of other companies that we, the government, wanted to see on that list. I would be quite happy to table that memo.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
Permalink
PC

Peter MacKay

Progressive Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, we will be happy as well, but according to the Prime Minister's communications officer, Mario Laguë, no records were kept about decisions made at closed meetings on advertising decisions. How convenient.

While the Prime Minister's man Mario was in the thick of it, the Auditor General stated that the problems plaguing the sponsorship program touched the advertising contracts as well. Does the Prime Minister expect Canadians to believe that his special request for the addition of Groupe Everest was not politically motivated and that with all those connections to his office he was not aware of its actions until 2002?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
Permalink
LIB

Stephen Owen

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has just answered the question with respect to his request that the process for choosing advertising companies be done on a competitive basis.

As we know, in the late 1990s, problems did occur with respect to the advertising and communications factors. Those have been reported on by the Auditor General. This government is taking every possible step to get to the bottom of it. But this does not go back to the 1994 suggestion and encouragement by the Prime Minister, then finance minister, that these be on a competitive basis.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
Permalink
BQ

Gilles Duceppe

Bloc Québécois

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

Mr. Speaker, Jean Carle said in court in 1998 that as soon as he arrived at the BDC from Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's office, the mandate given to him was to improve the visibility of the Government of Canada. To do so, Jean Carle acknowledges having met Chuck Guité and a number of ministers including Alfonso Gagliano, Marcel Massé, the member for Outremont and the current Minister of Industry.

How can the Prime Minister say he wants to get to the bottom of things when he has kept in his government a minister involved in the sponsorship scandal?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Sponsorship Program
Permalink
LIB

Lucienne Robillard

Liberal

Hon. Lucienne Robillard (Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, first, the member's question alludes to the ruling by Justice Denis of the Superior Court in which he refers to the corporate identity program of the Government of Canada, which has nothing to do with the sponsorship issue.

Second, I do not recall these meetings.

Third, he quotes paragraphs 16.68 and 16.69 of the ruling but neglects to quote paragraph 16.90 in which the court finds that the witness has no credibility.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Sponsorship Program
Permalink
BQ

Gilles Duceppe

Bloc Québécois

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

Mr. Speaker, anyone who says the BDC is not involved in the sponsorship scandal should read the Auditor General's report. BDC is one of the Crown corporations that was used as a smokescreen. It is linked to groups, Liberal cronies, receiving commissions.

I have the following question for the Prime Minister, who says he wants to clean up this mess. Did he check to make sure that none of his ministers was involved in the sponsorship scandal, or did he turn a blind eye to the involvement of some of his ministers, including the Minister of Industry?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Sponsorship Program
Permalink
LIB

Paul Martin

Liberal

Right Hon. Paul Martin (Prime Minister, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, as part of the ministerial swearing in ceremony on December 12, the ministers were asked whether there was anything in their past that should be discussed with us.

Moreover, I have asked each and every one of my cabinet ministers whether they had any knowledge of inappropriate activity in the sponsorship issue. Rest assured that in each case, the answer was no.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Sponsorship Program
Permalink
BQ

Michel Gauthier

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, there is a little problem. Jean Carle, who was appointed by the PMO to improve Canada's visibility and managed to get the BDC mentioned in the Auditor General's report for its involvement in the sponsorship scandal, met with Messrs. Gagliano and Guité, the two main actors in the sponsorship saga, as well as the Minister of Industry and the member for Outremont.

Will the Prime Minister not agree that this represents a pretty superficial review, if one asks ministers whether they were aware of a certain thing, when here we are informed that the minister does not recall, and the member for Outremont has just told the press that he too remembers nothing? Amnesia has set in.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Sponsorship Program
Permalink
LIB

Lucienne Robillard

Liberal

Hon. Lucienne Robillard (Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, two totally different matters are being deliberately confused. There is the Quebec Superior Court ruling on Beaudoin and the BDC, particularly paragraphs 16.68 and 16.69. Jean Carle is speaking of the Canadian corporate identity program, and yes we do have such a program. This is perfectly normal, and nothing to do with sponsorships.

The witness says he has met with certain ministers. I say I have not met that individual. I wish to point out as well that the court stipulates that it does not find this witness to have any credibility.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Sponsorship Program
Permalink
BQ

Michel Gauthier

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Industry is referring to the second aspect of the sponsorship program. It is true that, overall, there was something like $1.25 billion for sponsorships, to the same ad agencies, for the government's corporate identity.

What we have trouble believing today is that the minister remembers so well how the programs operated, but suddenly does not remember that she discussed them with colleagues, that a meeting was held, that she intervened, and that as a result the BDC is today named as being involved in the sponsorship scandal.

What kind of selective amnesia is the government suffering from?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Sponsorship Program
Permalink
LIB

Lucienne Robillard

Liberal

Hon. Lucienne Robillard (Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, it is clear that the member for Roberval has never been a member of government, and has never paid any attention to government programs. On the one hand we have the sponsorships, and on the other, the government corporate identity program, which applies to all government departments. What we want is for the public to perceive a department doing something as acting on behalf of the Government of Canada. That is the first thing.

Second, with respect to the sponsorships per se, the Auditor General's report indicates that the BDC was involved. This is why the President of the Treasury Board has personally met with the Auditor General and has even called in the BDC's board analyst to rectify what happened with the sponsorships.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Sponsorship Program
Permalink
NDP

Bill Blaikie

New Democratic Party

Mr. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg—Transcona, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister, whom I would like to welcome back from his recent political road show. I am sure the Prime Minister never realized that his first disaster relief tour would be his own.

The Prime Minister says that things are getting better, but I can tell him that a lack of phone calls at the constituency office does not always mean anything. Sometimes silence is scarier.

Given that one of his senior advisors worked with Mr. Gagliano at one point, could he tell me who else is in his office that was imported from that office, presumably for their ability not to notice what was going on.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Sponsorship Program
Permalink
LIB

Paul Martin

Liberal

Right Hon. Paul Martin (Prime Minister, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Laguë did not work for Mr. Gagliano. He was the secretary of the cabinet committee on communications. That is a cabinet committee.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Sponsorship Program
Permalink
NDP

Bill Blaikie

New Democratic Party

Mr. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg—Transcona, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I believe I said worked with Mr. Gagliano, not for.

The fact of the matter is that this is a person right in the Prime Minister's Office who should have known what was going on. The Prime Minister is telling us he has never had a conversation with this person who said he did not know that people were actually stealing money. He might have thought that maybe they were stealing money, but not actually.

I mean, how much more does the Prime Minister have to ask us to believe?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Sponsorship Program
Permalink

February 18, 2004