November 23, 2004

BQ

Benoît Sauvageau

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Benoît Sauvageau (Repentigny, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General is concerned about the federal government's rather undemocratic practices in many areas, including the fact that it continues to dip into the employment insurance fund against the will of parliamentarians, the fact that its programs do not allow aboriginals to have access to post-secondary education and participate in the democratic process, and the fact that it does not provide proper answers to questions put to it by parliamentarians.

Can the Prime Minister reiterate, without blinking, that he is concerned by the democratic deficit, after such a damning report by the Auditor General?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Auditor General's Report
Permalink
LIB

Reg Alcock

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, we wish to thank the Auditor General and her staff and, frankly, all of the public servants who are working so hard to address these issues. We use the words “continuous improvement” because there will always be challenges and we will always respond.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Auditor General's Report
Permalink
BQ

Benoît Sauvageau

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Benoît Sauvageau (Repentigny, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, what is more worrisome is that the human resources and sponsorship scandals did not serve as lessons. Internal audit committees in the various departments do not have the resources and independence necessary to fulfill their responsibilities and, in this context, another sponsorship scandal remains a distinct possibility.

How can the President of the Treasury Board explain his department's carelessness, after the fine promises made by the Prime Minister to solve this problem?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Auditor General's Report
Permalink
LIB

Reg Alcock

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the best answer would be to use the words of the Auditor General herself:

Another unintended consequence of audit reports is that while they present findings on specific programs or issues, those findings are sometimes generalized as applying to the government as a whole. This could serve to diminish the trust Canadians have in the government and the public service.

That would be unfortunate.

I ask the member to get his facts straight.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Auditor General's Report
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CPC

Tom Lukiwski

Conservative

Mr. Tom Lukiwski (Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, yesterday in the House the President of the Treasury Board stood and said that ministers during an election campaign were allowed to take one ministerial staff to assist during the campaign. Records indicate now that the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration had not one but three ministerial staff in the minister's riding during the campaign, all charged back to the taxpayer.

Would the President of the Treasury Board not agree that this was a clear violation by the immigration minister with respect to the election laws?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Citizenship and Immigration
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LIB

Judy Sgro

Liberal

Hon. Judy Sgro (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, those allegations are outrageous. The member should get his facts very clear.

The government took the unprecedented step of posting expenses of ministerial and political staff on the Internet. We are posting every one of those items as clear and proficient, and has been approved by the comptroller. All expenses are in accordance with all guidelines. That is how we work on this side of the House.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Citizenship and Immigration
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CPC

Tom Lukiwski

Conservative

Mr. Tom Lukiwski (Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I am not denying that the expenses were posted. That is how we found out about this information.

Let us take one example of the minister's former chief of staff. Every week during the election, the minister would fly her former chief of staff to her riding on the weekends. Then he would fly back on Monday, with one exception. On election day, the former chief of staff stayed an extra night because, as we all know, no campaign worker can resist a good election night party.

Will you agree that this was a clear violation of electoral rules--

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Citizenship and Immigration
Permalink
?

The Speaker

No, I will not. The hon. member has to address his questions to the Chair. The hon. Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Citizenship and Immigration
Permalink
LIB

Judy Sgro

Liberal

Hon. Judy Sgro (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, let us use some common sense here. The member knows darn well these get posted on the Internet.

Given the fact that these issues do get posted on the Internet, does the member think that we will post something that is not consistent with the Treasury Board guidelines, all the guidelines that all of us as ministers and as members of Parliament have to operate under?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Citizenship and Immigration
Permalink
CPC

James Rajotte

Conservative

Mr. James Rajotte (Edmonton—Leduc, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, today the Auditor General tried to clarify the largest clerical error in Canadian history: why the government failed to report over $160 million in grants and contracts to the Prime Minister's shipping company, Canada Steamship Lines. We learned today that even this figure is not correct. In fact it is at least $170 million now and it does not include any contracts with the port authorities or with Canada Post.

When will the government finally come clean on how much taxpayer money the Prime Minister's shipping company has received?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
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LIB

Tony Valeri

Liberal

Hon. Tony Valeri (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure whether the hon. member has read the same report that I have. What the Auditor General in fact has said is that this response is as complete as reasonably possible, that it is as good as it gets.

The opposition can be expected to say what it is saying. I will take my cue from the Auditor General. She has provided some further recommendations, recommendations which we fully support and will implement.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
Permalink
CPC

James Rajotte

Conservative

Mr. James Rajotte (Edmonton—Leduc, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General said that it was at least $10 million off and she also said in her report that it did not include the port authorities or Canada Post. Therefore, it could be higher than $170 million.

In addition to the numbers being way off base, the Auditor General also pointed out that two companies had been omitted from the Prime Minister's 2002 public declaration of assets. One of these companies, Lansdowne Technologies, received over $20 million taxpayer dollars.

Why did the Prime Minister sign a false declaration of assets? How can Canadians trust anything the Prime Minister says?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
Permalink
LIB

Tony Valeri

Liberal

Hon. Tony Valeri (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, again, the rhetoric is at fever pitch. With respect to the $10 million loan guarantee, the Auditor General noted in her report that this was a loan guarantee made by the last Conservative government, the friends of my friends across the way. A majority share of Canarctic Shipping Company Ltd. was owned by the government. Furthermore, the loan guarantee was never exercised at all, so no money was ever paid out.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Contracts
Permalink
LIB

David McGuinty

Liberal

Mr. David McGuinty (Ottawa South, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, we all know that the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. Media reports today again raise fundamental questions with respect to the Conservative Party's lack of empathy for human suffering caused by HIV-AIDS. Although the Conservatives are desperately trying to re-brand themselves as more moderate, once again Canadians get a real look at their views from a prominent member of that party.

My question is for the Minister of International Cooperation. Could the minister please tell us what the government and what we on this side of the House have done to demonstrate empathy for this important cause while dealing with--

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Hiv-Aids
Permalink
?

The Speaker

The Minister of International Cooperation.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Hiv-Aids
Permalink
LIB

Aileen Carroll

Liberal

Hon. Aileen Carroll (Minister of International Cooperation, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, this is a very timely question. Just this morning the United Nations released its report that showed the terrible progression of this crisis. Almost 40 million people are now living with AIDS, and the toll on women is horrific.

In Africa fully 76% of young people with the disease are women. On this side of the House we are committed to leading the fight against AIDS. We provided $100 million to the World Health 3 by 5 initiative. The leader of World Health, Dr. Lee, told us that the Canadian lead is a historic--

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Hiv-Aids
Permalink
?

The Speaker

The hon. member for Halifax.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Hiv-Aids
Permalink
NDP

Alexa McDonough

New Democratic Party

Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, today the Auditor General once again condemned the Liberal government's empty words toward Canada's aboriginal people, specifically on post-secondary education. According to the Auditor General, the glacial speed of Liberal commitment to aboriginal people will result in the education gap between aboriginal and non-aboriginal students being closed in 28 years.

Why must our first nations wait 28 years for education equality?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Aboriginal Affairs
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LIB

Andy Scott

Liberal

Hon. Andy Scott (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Auditor General for the report. She is correct in her assertion that the gap between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians in educational achievement is too great.

That sentiment has been expressed by the Prime Minister, and that is why we called the round table in April. Education is one of the areas we are looking at strategically to do better on that gap. The government is committed to that, and I thank the Auditor General for bringing it to the attention of the nation.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Aboriginal Affairs
Permalink
NDP

Alexa McDonough

New Democratic Party

Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, is that why the government is now talking about taxing the education benefit for aboriginal students?

In her scathing report, the Auditor General reminded us today that the education gap was already highlighted four years ago. Yet, since 2000, the do nothing Liberal government has made no meaningful progress. Education is absolutely key to meaningful equality, yet we have seen four more years of second class status and a growing gap for first nations students.

Why is aboriginal equality always the subject of rhetoric, which we heard again this afternoon, but never--

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Aboriginal Affairs
Permalink

November 23, 2004