April 22, 2004

LIB

Pierre Pettigrew

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the question went in all kinds of directions, so I will use this opportunity to absolutely confirm to the House the firm intention of our government to work very closely with the provinces. The Prime Minister has committed to meet the first ministers next summer, following the good work we will be doing in the next few weeks and months with the health ministers.

We will want to guarantee the five principles of the Canada Health Act. We will want to work cooperatively with the provinces for a long term plan for the long term sustainability of our health care.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Health
Permalink
NDP

Yvon Godin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Yvon Godin (Acadie—Bathurst, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Human Resources recently said in the House that seasonal workers in the riding of Beauséjour—Petitcodiac will not be penalized for having banked hours for employment insurance benefits. His department assured me that the people in the riding of Acadie—Bathurst would be treated the same way, but it reversed its decision and is now asking them to pay.

Can the Minister of Human Resources commit to equal treatment for seasonal workers everywhere experiencing the same problem, and not just those in Liberal ridings?

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, seasonal workers across Canada are experiencing this problem. My department and I, personally, are treating everyone the same way. We are dealing with the problem and we are trying to put all the department's resources into finding solutions for individuals, no matter where they work.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Employment Insurance
Permalink
CA

Diane Ablonczy

Canadian Alliance

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

Mr. Speaker, Canadians want some straight answers about who is responsible for spending sponsorship millions in a way the Auditor General found broke every rule in the book.

Today a mid-level bureaucrat, Chuck Guité, claimed the Liberals gave him leave to award millions upon millions as he alone saw fit. Are Canadians to believe that a lone bureaucrat was allowed to spend all that money with no political direction or oversight?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Sponsorship Program
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LIB

Stephen Owen

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member knows, the public accounts committee is in the process of interviewing a whole range of witnesses on this important topic. I am sure that all members of the House, including the member, will look forward to the report of the public accounts committee commenting on his testimony, as well as other versions of what might have happened at what time during the last few years.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Sponsorship Program
Permalink
CA

Diane Ablonczy

Canadian Alliance

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

Mr. Speaker, I remind the Liberal government that the Auditor General uncovered such outrageous abuse of sponsorship spending that it triggered both a parliamentary and a judicial investigation, as well as multiple criminal investigations.

Canadians are being asked to swallow that all this can be laid at the door of a single bureaucrat who is pretty much a legend in his own mind. If the Liberals sat back while all this went on, why would anyone want them to run the country?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Sponsorship Program
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LIB

Stephen Owen

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I am sure the hon. member is aware of the testimony this morning. I am sure she, along with her colleagues on the public accounts committee, will be paying very careful attention to this version of what might have happened compared to other people's versions of what happened, come to some conclusions, some findings and present them in a report to this House, which all members of the public accounts committee are encouraged to bring as soon as possible.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Sponsorship Program
Permalink
CA

Jason Kenney

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Jason Kenney (Calgary Southeast, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, one of the things that became clear in this morning's testimony is that the secret Liberal unity fund laid the ground for the sponsorship debacle.

As finance minister and vice-chair of Treasury Board, the Prime Minister funded and had full knowledge of the unity honey pot and therefore he shares responsibility for the sponsorship scandal.

Why should Canadians trust the Prime Minister to clean up the sponsorship mess that he helped to create when he was the most powerful member of the Chrétien cabinet?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Sponsorship Program
Permalink
?

The Speaker

The hon. President of the Treasury Board.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Sponsorship Program
Permalink
?

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Sponsorship Program
Permalink
?

The Speaker

Everyone knows that the President of the Treasury Board is a very popular minister but we have to be able to hear his answer and if everybody is yelling and cheering for him, we cannot hear it. The hon. President of the Treasury Board has the floor.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Sponsorship Program
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LIB

Reg Alcock

Liberal

Hon. Reg Alcock (President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the question was why should Canadians trust this Prime Minister on this question. Simply because he has set up the most open, transparent process it is possible to have. Day by day the facts are coming out. As I have always said, the Prime Minister has nothing to fear from the truth.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Sponsorship Program
Permalink
CA

Jason Kenney

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Jason Kenney (Calgary Southeast, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, that is quite a mouthful coming from the $13 million man who just caused $83 million to evaporate into thin air.

We found out today that three former Liberal ministers of public works had a casual relationship with the truth in disclaiming any knowledge of a relationship to Chuck Guité.

Given that it is clear from today's testimony that the sponsorship program was designed by and for the Liberal Party with political direction from the very highest levels, why should Canadians trust the government to clean up the mess that it created?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Sponsorship Program
Permalink
LIB

Stephen Owen

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure to which testimony the hon. member is referring. The account that I heard of the testimony of Mr. Guité today said exactly the opposite, that there was no political direction in terms of the decisions he was making with respect to advertising firms.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Sponsorship Program
Permalink
BQ

Suzanne Tremblay

Bloc Québécois

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

Mr. Speaker, after a press conference called by the Whirlpool workers and the Bloc Quebecois, Human Resources and Skills Development staff met with the workers. These workers have an unusual and original proposal for providing assistance to workers aged 55 to 65 who are about to lose their jobs.

Can the minister tell us whether he intends to give a favourable response to the Whirlpool workers who came here yesterday to denounce his neglect?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Older Workers
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LIB

Joe Volpe

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the only neglect that needs to be denounced made here is neglect of the truth. The truth is something the hon. member across the way has obviously never known.

The task force with which the meeting was held is going to produce a report, and when I get that report, I will reach my decision.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Older Workers
Permalink
BQ

Suzanne Tremblay

Bloc Québécois

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

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal member for Montmagny-L'Islet has had the proposal from the Whirlpool workers in hand since last fall and has done nothing about it. In reaction to Bloc Quebecois pressure, Human Resources and Skills Development staff finally met with them yesterday.

Does the minister at last plan to approve federal funding for this project before the plant closes on May 14?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Older Workers
Permalink
LIB

Joe Volpe

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I want to stress that the hon. member is aware that my department and the Government of Canada are always there, prepared to help workers in what is obviously an unfortunate situation.

We are trying to put in place the programs required to resolve the problems and what are, I hope, temporary interruption of earnings for all those who are out of work.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Older Workers
Permalink
CA

Ken Epp

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Ken Epp (Elk Island, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is making a mockery of democracy. There is nothing democratic about appointing candidates in ridings and not allowing the people to choose.

In Edmonton East a favourite Liberal is in the process of being anointed and others are not even being allowed to compete. In Burnaby--Douglas the chosen Liberal poster boy is fast tracked while Canadians of Chinese origin are given the heave-ho.

How does the Prime Minister square these actions with his throne speech--

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Liberal Party of Canada
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?

The Speaker

I think the hon. member for Elk Island knows that questions in question period must concern the responsibilities of the government. The appointment of candidates is a party matter and I need not remind him of that. Maybe in his supplementary question he will come up with a question that is relevant to the responsibilities of the government in the House.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Liberal Party of Canada
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April 22, 2004