Hon. Stephen Owen
Mr. Speaker, that was quite extraordinary coming from the member for North Vancouver. I would like to respond to a couple of points he made.
As I described in my comments, these processes and holding people to account is narrowing, starting with the $250 million. The overwhelming amount of that money went toward funding valuable and treasured community cultural, sporting and other events. We know there were problems with the commissions that were paid. The program has ended. We are focusing on and narrowing down where the fault may be.
That member made a wild statement about the mismanagement of public funds and yet every single reputable international institution which looks into economic issues has described Canada as being the best fiscally managed country in the world. I am talking about the WTO, the IMF and the OECD. I am also talking about distinguished international business journals such as the Wall Street Journal and The Economist . They all describe Canada as being the best fiscally managed country in the world.
A report came out just last week from IMD, the Institute for Management Development in Switzerland, that identified Canada as being the third most competitive economy in the world only surpassed by the United States. We know how competitive the States has become with a $500 billion deficit and 44 million people without health insurance. The only other country is Singapore which is about the size of the constituency of the hon. member for North Vancouver and is not particularly a democratic government. Canada stands at the forefront of the fiscal management of a democracy in the world.
Let us put that into context. We are talking about a lot of money and that is why we are taking it so seriously. That is also why the Prime Minister has said that we would get to the bottom of it, and we are. Heads of crown corporations have been fired. Processes are being followed.
Those members have said that when the Prime Minister was finance minister he should have been aware of this. Canada has a budget of $180 billion. The finance minister is responsible for setting taxes, arranging the budget, and overseeing very generally the finances of the country. The fiscal management of this country is supreme and largely because of the efforts of the current Prime Minister.
However, $180 billion a year is $500 million a day. Anybody who knows anything about the workings and administration of government knows that the finance minister does not have the responsibility nor is it his role to oversee the expenditure of that $500 million a day, let alone a program that was spending $40 million a year with proper controls that were being circumvented and which we are getting to the bottom of.