April 30, 2004

NDP

Lorne Nystrom

New Democratic Party

Hon. Lorne Nystrom (Regina—Qu'Appelle, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, there are some other facts as well. One fact is that the U.S. missile defence agency has a budget line for space based programs. An additional fact is that a former United States assistant secretary of defence said missile defence “is really star wars two”. Another fact is that Russia has already tested a hypersonic weapon capable of penetrating any missile defence shield.

Does the government have the courage to stand up today and say no to missile defence or is it happy to have the same policy as the Conservative Party to my extreme right?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   National Defence
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LIB

David Pratt

Liberal

Hon. David Pratt (Minister of National Defence, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, we have been through these stale arguments from the NDP before and I expect I will be called to answer on these questions again.

Let me repeat. We are opposed to the weaponization of space. The Prime Minister has said that on a number of occasions. The Minister of Foreign Affairs has said that and I have said that. The NDP members still do not get it.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   National Defence
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CA

Diane Ablonczy

Canadian Alliance

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

Mr. Speaker, the unity fund honey pot was kept so secret it was not even disclosed to the Auditor General. Just because the Liberals give a program a patriotic sounding name and blow a lot of hot air around, it does not mean the millions it cost are justified.

If these programs were so good, why not put them right out in the open so Canadians can see that for themselves? Is it not true that the Liberals hid this multi-million dollar spending because they knew it would not stand up to public scrutiny?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
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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, maybe the easiest way to answer the question is to say no, it is not true.

What I did when I went through the preparation of this list was track each one of these transactions, verify it against the Treasury Board submission, and identify it in the public accounts. These were reported.

Had the member been doing the work that an opposition member is required to do and go through the estimates year after year, she would have seen all of this. None of this was hidden.

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, even the Auditor General did not know about this program because the Liberals hid it.

The government says the money was all duly reported and duly transferred. Big deal. Cheques were written and someone kept the cheques in a file, but that does not mean the spending was the right thing to do.

What the Liberals did not keep was their word to Canadians to provide good and honest government, as they hide behind weasel words like “duly recorded” and “duly transferred”.

Why do the Liberals not finally admit that this was just another secret Liberal slush fund?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
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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, I think if members were to check, they would find that most Canadians are quite interested in unity and their country.

I would like to ask the member opposite, is she concerned about the fact that we invested in human rights promotion, the Queen's jubilee, and the Terry Fox youth centre, all of which were invested in by this program and duly reported?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
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CA

Scott Reid

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Scott Reid (Lanark—Carleton, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, in committee yesterday a public service integrity officer, Edward Keyserlingk, trashed the whistleblower bill. Among other things, he observed that Bill C-25 was missing an independent investigative body, had no mechanism for reporting to Parliament, and provided no protection against reprisal for whistleblowers.

I ask the minister, will he amend the bill to add these provisions which Professor Keyserlingk has highlighted?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Whistleblower Legislation
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LIB

Denis Coderre

Liberal

Hon. Denis Coderre (President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada, Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, Minister responsible for la Francophonie and Minister responsible for the Office of Indian Residential Schools Resolution, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, first of all, we will let the committee do its job.

I would like to refer to the recommendations of the working group on the disclosure of wrongdoing in the workplace, article 3.3, which talks about independence. It states:

To ensure such independence, we recommend the Office become an agent of Parliament, and be accountable to Parliament either directly or through a Minister.

I agree with that.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Whistleblower Legislation
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CA

Scott Reid

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Scott Reid (Lanark—Carleton, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, last Tuesday in question period I pointed out that Bill C-25 contained no provisions whatever for disciplining persons who engaged in reprisals against whistleblowers. The minister responded by telling me to take a look at clause 9.

Clause 9 of Bill C-25 contains provisions for disciplinary action, including termination of employment, but this is for whistleblowers themselves who make disclosures to the public service integrity commissioner without getting prior departmental approval.

Would Bill C-25 not have mandated the minister to fire Allan Cutler for not asking Chuck Guité's permission to go public?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Whistleblower Legislation
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LIB

Denis Coderre

Liberal

Hon. Denis Coderre (President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada, Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, Minister responsible for la Francophonie and Minister responsible for the Office of Indian Residential Schools Resolution, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, once again, the hon. member has everything mixed up. In terms of sanctions, obviously, we are talking about reprisals against whistleblowers. This is a bill to protect whistleblowers. It can go as far, in fact, as firing the person who attempts reprisals against the whistleblower. So what he has said is completely wrong.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Whistleblower Legislation
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BQ

Mario Laframboise

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Mario Laframboise (Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, although the Supreme Court has recognized the right of public servants to engage in legitimate political activities, Canadian Heritage has just dismissed Édith Gendron. The Vice-President of the Public Service Alliance of Canada has described this dismissal as a political trial, particularly since a number of managers at Heritage are actively involved in the Liberal Party and their activities are unrestricted.

What will it take for the Minister of Canadian Heritage to call her departmental employees to order, speak out against the injustice done to Ms. Gendron, and take the necessary steps to reinstate her in her position as soon as possible?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Public Service
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LIB

Denis Coderre

Liberal

Hon. Denis Coderre (President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada, Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, Minister responsible for la Francophonie and Minister responsible for the Office of Indian Residential Schools Resolution, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I would like to say again what I have been saying from the outset: this is an internal matter involving the Department of Canadian Heritage.

To set the record straight, what the member is referring to is the June 1991 Osborne decision. In it the court pointed out that there was a convention under the Constitution recognizing the neutrality of public servants as essential to the principles of responsible government.

When a conflict arises between personal interests and public interest, the resolution should give precedence to the public interest.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Public Service
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BQ

Mario Laframboise

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Mario Laframboise (Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, the minister's inaction smacks of a double standard. The Minister of Canadian Heritage cannot allow such a double standard; she must ensure that her departmental employees are treated fairly and equally.

Does the minister intend to intervene forcefully with her departmental staff so that not only common sense but also the rights recognized by the Charter of Rights and the Supreme Court prevail?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Public Service
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LIB

Jacques Saada

Liberal

Hon. Jacques Saada (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister responsible for Democratic Reform, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, on a number of occasions, the minister concerned as well as the minister answering today have repeated that this is an internal matter and is the responsibility of human resources at Canadian Heritage. That said, Ms. Gendron has recourses available to her. These are readily accessible and I assume she will avail herself of them.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Public Service
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BQ

Stéphane Bergeron

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Stéphane Bergeron (Verchères—Les-Patriotes, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Prime Minister expressed his openness to an amendment to NORAD, a prerequisite to Canada's taking part in the missile defence shield. The decision to support this amendment must be made in June, after the election, but in time for deployment this fall.

Is this not more proof that the PM has already decided that Canada will take part in the missile defence shield and that he does not want that decision known before the election?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   National Defence
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LIB

David Pratt

Liberal

Hon. David Pratt (Minister of National Defence, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has indicated very clearly that there are two key decision points here. One is in relation to the possible amendment to Norad and the other is a final decision on missile defence, which will be taken this fall.

The potential amendment to Norad does not in any way prejudge the final outcome of this decision.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   National Defence
Permalink
BQ

Stéphane Bergeron

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Stéphane Bergeron (Verchères—Les-Patriotes, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, does the government recognize that, in this case, the authorization last October by Lieutenant General Findley for Canadian soldiers to take part in a two-week military exercise related to the missile defence shield is still more proof that Canada's participation in this plan is already a given?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   National Defence
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LIB

David Pratt

Liberal

Hon. David Pratt (Minister of National Defence, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, there were two elements to the so-called training that occurred last October. One was a simulation exercise on missile defence, the likes of which has been conducted on a regular basis going back a number of years because that is one of the things that Norad does.

The other, as I indicated to my hon. colleague from the NDP, was a table top exercise for decision makers so they could understand the potential impact of ballistic missile defence on Norad.

They were not operational training.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   National Defence
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PC

Loyola Hearn

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Loyola Hearn (St. John's West, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, on Tuesday the Minister of Public Works and Government Services said “all the contracts that have been awarded to Earnscliffe or any company...are either already in the public domain or accessible for review”. Yesterday he admitted that was not the case but that the information could be obtained elsewhere by calling the 1-800 number. That is not true either.

What is the minister trying to cover up by providing incorrect information to the House?

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, first, I did not correct myself yesterday. I explained by providing clarification because the day before yesterday an hon. member from the other side misquoted my answer on Tuesday, which this member has properly referred to.

I said that the services they are providing to the government are either already in the public domain or are accessible for review, and they are. We have access to information. We have direct inquires to my department. We have access to the Canada Contracts website. If the member has a specific question, give it--

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
Permalink

April 30, 2004