Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Hansard excerpts- Question Period- May 30/05

Sponsorship Program

Hon. Stephen Harper (Leader of the Opposition, CPC): Mr. Speaker, we have learned that the Prime Minister has set up a $1 million war room to deal with the fallout from the sponsorship inquiry. Now Canadians are on the hook for that money that is defending the Liberal Party.

This is a Liberal scandal, not a Canadian scandal. Canadian taxpayers have already paid enough. Will the Prime Minister direct the Liberal Party to repay this money to taxpayers?

Right Hon. Paul Martin (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition knows that the inquiry is complex. It goes back over a 10 year period and involves thousands of transactions.

The mandate of the coordination in the PCO is to ensure that in fact the commission has the support it requires from the government. There are literally thousands upon thousands of documents that have to be prepared. It is the PCO that makes sure those documents are prepared and released to the commission. In fact, this is what is called cooperating with the commission to ensure that it has everything it needs from the government.

Hon. Stephen Harper (Leader of the Opposition, CPC): In fact, Mr. Speaker, the existence of this war room came to light because it was undermining the work of Justice Gomery in attacking the cost of his inquiry. That is how it was discovered by access to information.

We got the sponsorship scandal because the Liberal Party used public funds for partisan purposes. It was wrong then. It is wrong now. Will the Prime Minister direct the Liberal Party to repay this money to taxpayers?

Right Hon. Paul Martin (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the work of the committee came to light because there was nothing secret about it. It came to light because the committee is doing the very job it was set up to do and that is to make sure that in fact the inquiry has all of the papers it requires and that the government is responsive to its needs.

Members of the opposition stand up daily and ask, will the government provide this and will the government cooperate. It requires a structure to do that. The answer is yes, we have cooperated, and we will continue to do so.

Hon. Stephen Harper (Leader of the Opposition, CPC): Let me ask a related question, Mr. Speaker. Before the break week, the government announced that it had set up a $750,000 trust fund for the Liberal Party to repay money to. Can the Prime Minister tell us how much money the government has directed into that fund since it was set up?

Hon. Scott Brison (Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the government has not directed anything into that trust fund, but the Liberal Party of Canada has in fact put $750,000 into that trust fund, to answer the hon. member's question.

The fact is that the Liberal Party is cooperating fully. The establishment of this trust fund demonstrates good faith. Furthermore, the Liberal Party has been clear that any funds received inappropriately will be returned to the Canadian taxpayer once we have all the facts.

¸ (1420)

Mr. Monte Solberg (Medicine Hat, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the spinning just goes on and on. Using tax dollars for the benefit of the Liberal Party is what the sponsorship scandal is all about.

Now we learn that there is a $1 million war room operating out of the PMO right now to orchestrate Gomery damage control for the benefit, once again, of the Liberal Party. So my question is, once again, why is the Liberal Party allowing this to happen? Why is the government allowing more tax dollars to go to the Liberal Party?

Hon. Scott Brison (Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, there is no war room. This is an effort to cooperate fully with the Gomery commission.

The only people who are at war are the members of the Conservative Party. They are at war with Canadians who want this Parliament to work and who want to see the continuation of a functional Parliament addressing the concerns of Canadians: investments in health care, investments in child care, investments in housing, investments in the environment and investments in strengthening Canada's role in the world. The real war is between the Conservative Party and the interests of Canadians.

Mr. Monte Solberg (Medicine Hat, CPC): Mr. Speaker, that is coming from a party that just cut a backroom deal with the leader of the NDP, one of the most undemocratic moves I have ever seen in 12 years in Parliament.

The Liberals have not learned anything at all from the sponsorship scandal. Spending public money to benefit the Liberals is the problem. Now they are doing it all over again. Will the government close down the war room and force the Liberal Party to pay back that $1 million?

Hon. Scott Brison (Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, first of all, to address the hon. member's preamble, the fact is that we are cooperating with the NDP to respect the wishes of Canadians, to make this Parliament work, to invest in child care, to invest in health care, to invest in the environment, to invest in housing and to make a difference in the lives of Canadians. I am proud that we are doing this and not siding with the separatists who want to tear the country apart, as the hon. member's party is doing.

Furthermore, the fact is that our government has cooperated and will continue to cooperate fully with the Gomery commission and has in fact provided and coordinated over 20 million pages of documents to the Gomery commission because we want Justice Gomery to succeed.

* * *

Member for Newton—North Delta

Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier—Sainte-Marie, BQ): Mr. Speaker, Tim Murphy, the Prime Minister's chief of staff, apparently contacted the Conservative member for Newton—North Delta about a political appointment if the latter abstained from voting during the confidence vote. Part of the conversation was aired on CTV on May 18. Yet, the Prime Minister refused to say in this House if it was his chief of staff speaking.

Since the conversation has now been widely reported, can the Prime Minister now confirm that it was indeed his chief of staff on the recording?

Right Hon. Paul Martin (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have not heard the recording. The hon. member knows full well that there were discussions. I can repeat that, one, it was the hon. member for Newton—North Delta who approached the government and, two, that no offer was made.

Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier—Sainte-Marie, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the transcript in The Hill Times speaks for itself. Tim Murphy appears to have said that before the Conservative member abstained there was not much point in specifically discussing Senate appointments, but afterward they would be free to talk about it. Tim Murphy appears to have tempted the hon. member for Newton—North Delta with a political appointment in exchange for his support for the government.

Does the Prime Minister realize that such behaviour is subject to prosecution under section 119 of the Criminal Code?

Right Hon. Paul Martin (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I repeat: no offer was made and it was the hon. member for Newton—North Delta who approached us, period.


TonyGuitar said...

A group of Albertans have displayed some surprising levels of rage at everything liberal and Ottawa related.

Thinking about Cattle farmers, borders, payment transfers and other less obvious but evident injustices, I can understand why.

One fellow wrote, with powerful conviction, that Jean Cretien and Paul Martin were both aware of systimatic fleecing of National Revenues for over ten years running.

I imagine he means from the time Allan Cutler blew the whistle on Guite's phantom contracts that he refused to sign off on. That is over ten years ago.

Odd how that such obvious logic had not occured to me.

Do we think Canadian leaders are too gentille to go to jail for their crimes?

There were many scandals over that time, including 146 million worth of Compaq/Hewlett Packard
computers missing from DND.

WE are speaking of hundreds of millions of dollars of Canadian public wealth here.

How many years of detention would that cost you or I?

Since it is laughable that we should think for a minit that the Finance Minister and at the time, Mr. Cretien, both missed noticing the 146 million in one case and the millions in Adscam losses, what possible reason is there for them not to serve jail time?

What sound argument can I pass on to my Albertan friend to have him accept that it is only we citizens who deserve to go to jail.

What is it that exempts our leaders from paying for multi-million dollar sleights of hand? 73s TonyGuitar

12:02 AM  

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