April 20, 2004

LIB

Ralph Goodale

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, my recollection of the analysis of the polling activity that the Government of Canada had undertaken by the Auditor General and included in her most recent report is that she found, with very few exceptions, the polling activities of the Government of Canada were properly conducted and that there was a wide basis of competition with indeed tens of companies being able to participate.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
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NDP

Bill Blaikie

New Democratic Party

Hon. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg—Transcona, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I want to say that it comes as no surprise to us that the Prime Minister is not an incarnation of innocence when it comes to contracts.

I have another question for the Prime Minister, welcoming him back from the campaign trail, where he is out there re-announcing Chrétien policies at the same time as he is trying to put distance between himself and the former prime minister. I want to give the Prime Minister an opportunity not to campaign but to govern and not to re-announce but to actually renounce a policy of the Chrétien government.

Will he stand up in the House today and tell us that the contract with Lockheed Martin to conduct the Canadian census is going to be dropped?

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, the contract referred to was won through a fair, open and transparent competition. The Government of Canada has no intention of cancelling that contract.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
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NDP

Bill Blaikie

New Democratic Party

Hon. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg—Transcona, NDP)

It was probably about as fair and open as the way that Earnscliffe won its contracts, Mr. Speaker.

We understand that there is concern now about the public reaction to Lockheed Martin conducting our census. There is concern about the effect of the patriot act and the fact that this information may well have to be shared with the United States, given the relationship between Lockheed Martin, the Pentagon and the United States.

Is the government not concerned about the effect on the Canadian census and public opinion? Is it not in fact reconsidering this contract? Will the Prime Minister kindly address this issue?

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, the terms of the contract with Lockheed Martin Canada provide for complete confidentiality and security of Canadian census information. If there is any suggestion that this strict condition of the contract cannot be fulfilled, then of course the government will look at reviewing it.

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 Prime Minister's indignation does not really change his sorry history of ripping off taxpayers to help his friends at Earnscliffe. Let me quote from the memo of July 24, 1995, from Warren Kinsella to Chuck Guité: “I require an immediate explanation as to how the department in question”--the finance department--“was permitted to breach the guidelines in this way”.

How can the Prime Minister deny his role in this whole sorry mess, this contract scandal, when he was the first one in the pool when it came to breaking the rules?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
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LIB

Ralph Goodale

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, again, referring to the documents that have been brought before the public accounts committee, the memorandum of May 30, 1994, and then the memorandum of December 22, 1995, neither of those documents indeed support the proposition that the hon. gentleman is talking about.

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 minister should get up to speed because we have documents that show this Prime Minister was directly involved. We have a smoking gun. The Prime Minister has been fingered as being directly involved in breaking all the rules in the book. He used his influence to help his friends at Earnscliffe. That is unethical and that is un-Canadian.

Why should Canadians have any faith in a Prime Minister who has played such a direct role in lowering the ethical standards of government in Canada today?

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 fact, the record of the Prime Minister and his staff in dealing with these matters is to argue for more competition, not less, argue for it sooner rather than later, and to defend the proper processes of contracts.

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, a new document has come to light that blows holes in the Prime Minister's cover story on ad scam. The 1995 internal memo shows Public Works questioning why advertising contracts had been given out under the authority of the finance minister, now the Prime Minister, and I quote, “contrary to cabinet-approved guidelines”.

The Prime Minister has been telling Canadians he did not know about advertising rules being broken. This damning memo exposes the Prime Minister as a rule breaker. How can Canadians possibly trust him after this?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
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LIB

Paul Martin

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, there is a document tabled in the House, and in fact tabled by the member for Pictou--Antigonish--Guysborough, I believe, which demonstrates very clearly that what my office said was that it wanted an open competition and it wanted a number of firms and as many firms added to the list as could possibly be done. It wanted competition for the advertising contract, and that is the way it should be.

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, that is nonsense, because this is what the memo really says. They want to know why the finance department, with the current Prime Minister then in charge, and I quote, “was permitted to breach the guidelines in this way”.

Yet now the Prime Minister sputters about being mad as hell and he wants to find out how rules were broken. Now Canadians have found out how they were broken. They were broken by the Prime Minister. The truth is coming out. Why does he not now just give up this whole pretense of innocence?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
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LIB

Ralph Goodale

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, on issues related to advertising in that period in 1994 and 1995, the documents that have indeed been tabled in the House, the memoranda that flowed from the minister's office, indicated very clearly that he was arguing for more competition, not less, and he was arguing for that competition earlier and sooner rather than later.

Indeed, on the matter of polling, the Auditor General has reviewed that matter. The hon. member will know that in the chapter in the most recent report the review from the Auditor General is essentially favourable.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
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BQ

Suzanne Tremblay

Bloc Québécois

Mrs. Suzanne Tremblay (Rimouski—Neigette-et-la Mitis, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, even Pierrette Ringuette, vice-chair of the Liberal committee studying the issue of employment insurance, finds that the threshold of 910 hours imposed on new entrants into the labour force is too high and prevents many people from obtaining benefits.

Does the Prime Minister agree with Ms. Ringuette's rather harsh opinion?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Employment Insurance
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LIB

Joe Volpe

Liberal

Hon. Joseph Volpe (Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that Ms. Ringuette is studying the shortcomings in the employment insurance system. It must be noted, however, that, while there are still shortcomings causing problems, there is also good news. The good news is that the unemployment rate, the number of people without work in Quebec and in the whole country, is still declining.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Employment Insurance
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BQ

Suzanne Tremblay

Bloc Québécois

Mrs. Suzanne Tremblay (Rimouski—Neigette-et-la Mitis, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, according to Ms. Ringuette, the legislative amendments needed to change the employment insurance system will take at least six months. Meanwhile, the people fleeced by the EI system are living in great difficulties and expressing their discontent, as they did yesterday in Forestville.

How can the government justify the fact that it has waited so long before acting on the unanimous recommendations of a committee, when all the necessary changes were identified by that committee three years ago? Will the government admit once again that all it is doing is stalling for time at the expense of the Sans-Chemise?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Employment Insurance
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LIB

Joe Volpe

Liberal

Hon. Joseph Volpe (Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, as I just said, there is a much broader perspective. Obviously the hon. member wants to point out problems. However, the truth is that, in the past, the government established a partnership with the regional authorities and thus also with the provincial authorities. The government has transferred $597 million every year, in part to deal with these problems.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Employment Insurance
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BQ

Réal Ménard

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Réal Ménard (Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, in support of their report on the introduction of mega-hospitals in Montreal, former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and former Premier Daniel Johnson reiterated yesterday that what the health care system needed was money from Ottawa, with no strings attached.

How can the Prime Minister make his share of funding for health care conditional on doing what Ottawa wants? Even former Prime Minister Mulroney admits that what the health care system needs is money, nothing else.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Health
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LIB

Pierre Pettigrew

Liberal

Hon. Pierre Pettigrew (Minister of Health, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister responsible for Official Languages, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, that was not even the opinion of Bernard Landry, the real leader of the chapter here in the House. When he was finance minister, he recognized that simply making funds available for health would not ensure the real long term sustainability of our health care system for Canadians.

This very morning in Toronto, I gave a speech outlining the plan for health that we are developing with the provinces. This plan—

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Health
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Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Health
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April 20, 2004