Thursday, April 7, 2005

House of Commons Questions, April 6, Sponsorship Program.

This is rich. Below is the transcript of the House of Commons Questions concerning the Sponsorship Program from yesterday. Watch as our hero, The Right Hon. Paul Martin (Prime Minister, Lib.) bobs and weaves his way through the molasses surrounding him. (Ed. – occasional commentary added.)

The session shows a constant drumbeat by the Conservatives for answers now. The Liberals push to wait until December. I think the text refutes the press assertion that the Conservatives want to wait to compel a no-confidence vote. Amusingly, the Libs consistently try to reframe the issue as national unity, as the BQ's were bad (too?), the Conservatives want to detroy Canada.

Here is the full transcript of the Questions Period.

Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier—Sainte-Marie, BQ): Mr. Speaker, on February 12, 2004, the Prime Minister referred to political direction behind the sponsorship scandal. On Monday, he added to this by stating that “a few individuals” controlled everything—a parallel group. He has always refused to say who was behind the political direction.

Could he tell the public today who those Liberals are who were pulling the strings of the sponsorship scandal? Who are these individuals? Who makes up that parallel group? Ed. – true. Martin has mentioned that a few times. See my piece on Paul Martin and Logic of Torture Denial.

Right Hon. Paul Martin (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have already answered that. Moreover, one of the Bloc members has already submitted all kinds of names. Ed. – Read, “No.”

I would, however, like to ask the leader of the Bloc a question. Since he is seriously interested in becoming the leader of the Parti Québécois, I would like to know whether he intends to call for an inquiry into the $100,000 the Parti Québécois received from Groupaction. Ed. – Read, “Let’s change the subject.” Again Torture Denial – other people have done things just as bad.

Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier—Sainte-Marie, BQ): Mr. Speaker, if the Prime Minister is so anxious to ask questions, he will soon have an opportunity to do so, when he is in the opposition. Ed. – SLAP!!!

The Liberals—

Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

The Speaker: Order. Perhaps we should begin again, but without that sentence.

The hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie.

Mr. Gilles Duceppe: Mr. Speaker, the Liberals—

Some hon. members: Oh, oh!


The Speaker: Order. We are making very slow progress in question period today. There are going to be a lot of disappointed members at the end of this. Ed. – What? No milk and cookies?


The hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie now has the floor. We must have a bit of order. If people want to have other discussions, there are plenty of places they can do so.

Mr. Gilles Duceppe: Mr. Speaker, the Liberals are panicking. They ought to calm down and listen to what Justice Gomery said on Monday “To date, no one has alleged or in any way suggested that money from the sponsorship program went to the Bloc Québécois in any way.” Ed. – Oh, my. BQ is OK. Let’s move on.

Let us move on to something more serious, and hear no more from Ali Baba's noisy band. Ed. – must be a Canadian thing.

The Liberals have some nerve to talk about a “parallel group”. Does the Prime Minister, with all his connections—

The Speaker: I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member, but the Right Hon. Prime Minister has the floor.


Right Hon. Paul Martin (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, first of all, I cannot think of a better example--

Some hon. members: Oh, oh!


The Speaker: Order, please. The time for the question is up. There are lots of other opportunities for discussions of this type. The Right Hon. Prime Minister.


Right Hon. Paul Martin: Mr. Speaker, I hope Canadians had a chance to see that picture. The Leader of the Opposition talks about the separatist threat and then there they were, all standing hand in hand, the separatists and the Conservatives. That is where they are coming from. That is what it is all about. Ed. – Wow. Paul has some cajones. Talk about deflect, deflect, deflect.


Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier—Sainte-Marie, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the Liberals have some nerve to talk about a parallel group.

Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

Mr. Gilles Duceppe: That's enough from Ali Baba's band. Ed. – that Canadian thing again. Wasn’t that a Disney cartoon?

Can the Prime Minister, with his insider knowledge of the Liberal Party, tell us whether Chrétien, Pelletier, Carle, Gagliano, Bard, Corbeil, Morseli, Corriveau, Pichette, Ouellet and Lefrançois were part of this “parallel group”, magically integrated into the Liberal structure, some members of which are panicking and yelling to prevent others from speaking? They are like Ali Baba's band. Ed. – Images of a future Perp Walk?

Right Hon. Paul Martin (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, since the potential leader of the Parti Québécois likes to answer questions, perhaps I could ask him a second one. Can he confirm to the House that all the Groupaction gifts to PQ members were in accordance with the electoral laws of Quebec? Ed. – Hey, Paul, let’s deal with your job as Finance Minister, your party as that forming the government. Remove the plank from your eye before you comment on the speck of dust in another’s, eh?

Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier—Sainte-Marie, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the Parti Québécois has answered that question.

An hon. member: Contrary to what went on in Ottawa, the answer is yes.

Mr. Gilles Duceppe: The Bloc, in fact, refused money from Groupaction. We were not interested in getting our hands on dirty money, like they did. Ed. – SLAP, SLAP, SLAP.

An hon. member: We did not award contracts either. We never awarded any contracts to our friends. Ed. – YES!!!! He shoots, he scores!!!

Mr. Gilles Duceppe: The Liberals are the ones who awarded contracts, here in Ottawa. They are the ones yelling so nobody can be heard and who are anxious to ask questions because they are going to end up in the opposition. It is time they told us who was behind all this. Which friends of Ali Baba are part of this “parallel group”? Ed. – Give us the witch! The stake is ready! Give us the witch!

Right Hon. Paul Martin (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, is the leader of the Bloc, potential leader of the Parti Québécois, able to tell us whether the money the Parti Québécois transferred to the Bloc was not money— Ed. – it seems that Ali Baba’s band plays only one note.

Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

The Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member for Toronto—Danforth.

Hon. Jack Layton (Toronto—Danforth, NDP): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister.

Yesterday, a Liberal minister said that good federalists should ignore corruption. It seems to me that, a few moments ago, the Prime Minister made a very similar statement.

Is this “we are the state” attitude at the root of this corruption scandal? I think so.

This is unbelievable, and all the more so when we hear allegations implicating the Parti Québécois.

So, does the Prime Minister think that opposing corruption jeopardizes federalism? Ed. – If this, then that? Methinks the logic dispersed at some point here.

Right Hon. Paul Martin (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am not quite sure I understand the question of the NDP leader. However, I can say that my party and I set up the Gomery commission to investigate the issue. We did so because Canadians deserve to get answers and because we want Canada's politics to be as honest as possible. That is why we took this initiative and it is us who will shed light on the whole situation. We want the Gomery commission to have time to provide answers. Ed. – and time for us to come up with some questions to deflect attention.


Hon. Jack Layton (Toronto—Danforth, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I am going to repeat my question because it is about time the Liberals realized that people care more about Canada than they do about Liberals. Ed. – um, let me try this again. I’m new at asking important questions. I am in NDP afterall.

Yesterday a Liberal minister said that federalists should not attack Liberal corruption, as if this is some kind of a Canadian scandal instead of a Liberal scandal. This is incredible, and even more incredible when we hear the latest allegations regarding the Parti Québécois.

I ask again, does the Prime Minister agree with the position of one of his ministers that to oppose Liberal corruption is to undermine federalism, yes or no? Ed. – OK, got it. Whew!!

Right Hon. Paul Martin (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, what the hon. member said is that we should wait for the Gomery report.

The Gomery commission was put in place to determine what the facts are. Mr. Justice Gomery will bring down his decision and at that point we will have them and at that point the government can act. Ed. – Interesting phrase “will bring down his decision.” And your government?

To act on the basis of allegations, on the basis of statements made in the middle of the commission makes absolutely no sense. I would simply say to the opposition, I would say to the NDP and I would say to the Bloc, for heaven's sake let Mr. Justice Gomery get on with the job and let him complete his report. Ed. – Invoking God? Better put on the tin foil hat, Paul. “In the middle of the commission makes no sense?” If in the middle of the trial the defendant stands up and says, “I did it,” that would be good enough for me. Burn the witch!!!

Hon. Stephen Harper (Leader of the Opposition, CPC): Mr. Speaker, that is interesting advice, except if my ears heard correctly, I heard the Prime Minister bragging to the leader of the Bloc Québécois that they may have received sponsorship money. Is this the best defence the Liberal Party has to offer, that the separatists are just as big crooks as the Liberals? Ed. – That would be, “Future Prime Minister Harper” to you.

Hon. Scott Brison (Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, let us be clear. Anybody who used the unity crisis to achieve personal financial gain will be punished, because we are getting to the bottom of this issue. Ed. – Ewwww, subtle!! This is not the waste of money, the graft, the greed. Let’s see what motivated everyone here – good intentions. We had a “unity crisis,” people!! Don’t you remember? We had to do this!!

It is very interesting hearing the leader of the Conservative Party talk about national unity because in 1994 on the eve of the 1995 referendum in the province of Quebec, when federalists of various stripes and when federalists of the Liberal Party were working hard to keep the country together, he was giving speeches saying he did not care whether Canada ended up with one national capital or four national capitals. He did not care then and he does not care now. Ed. – when was Future Prime Minister Harper talking about unity? Now we flashback ten years? My, you are in trouble.

Hon. Stephen Harper (Leader of the Opposition, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I just witnessed the entire Liberal Party standing and applauding the fact that sponsorship money may have gone to the Parti Québécois.

I am going to ask the Prime Minister again, can the Prime Minister assure Canadians, all federalists, that his government did not give sponsorship money to the separatists?

Hon. Scott Brison (Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois very much would like to have an election based on allegations. It is in their interest to do that because they do not want Justice Gomery to submit his report. They do not want Canadians to have the truth. They do not want the government or the Liberal Party to be able to respond in a substantive way to that substantive report.

I understand the Bloc members because they are separatists. They want to destroy the country, but I cannot understand for the life of me why the Conservatives support the Bloc in commenting on testimony and wanting to have an election based on testimony, not on the facts, not on Gomery's report.

We want to get to the bottom of this. That is why we support the work of Justice Gomery. Ed. – Hey, Scott!! You were asked a question (apparently the soon-to-be-former Prime Minister is on a potty break).

Mr. James Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, CPC): Mr. Speaker, what we want is a simple answer to a very straightforward question.

The Liberals still brag about the sponsorship program as though it was some master stroke of national unity, but Alain Renaud has admitted that Groupaction donated to the Liberal Party and to the separatists after having received money from the sponsorship program.

Taxpayers want to know why taxpayer dollars that were supposed to be for this program, that the Liberals say was for national unity, end up in the pockets of the separatists? Ed. – Here, here!!!

Hon. Scott Brison (Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, again, any guilty party, whatever their stripe, will face the full extent of the law. The reason is that this Prime Minister took action. He eliminated the sponsorship program. He established the Gomery commission. He supports the Gomery commission because we are not afraid of the truth.

The fact is that he is commenting on an allegation from one individual. It is not a fact; it is not a truth. We will have the facts. We will have the truth when Justice Gomery provides us with his report. Ed. – is that a denial of the present testimony? How does a report establish the truth if it is based on evidence yet the evidence itself is not the truth? The flag twists and turns slowly in the wind …

Mr. James Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, CPC): Mr. Speaker, it is not an allegation. It is an admission.

Groupaction got money from taxpayers, gave money to separatists, gave money to the Liberal Party, and this Liberal Party now will not answer a simple question. Why did taxpayer dollars go from a program that was supposed to be for national unity to people who are hellbent on destroying Canada? Ed. – THWAPP!!

Hon. Scott Brison (Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, once again, if the hon. member really wants to act based on fact, he ought to wait for Justice Gomery's report. Ed. – December 2005!

If he finally realizes that the Bloc and the separatists are hellbent on destroying Canada, perhaps he should reconsider his party's support of the Bloc's daily commentary on allegations before Gomery. Ed. – Read, “the issues are so much more important than the graft and greed.”

In fact, perhaps if he really realizes that the Bloc is hellbent on destroying the country, he ought to support federalists in the province of Quebec and support this government as we get to the bottom of this issue, so that we can defend the reputations of all Quebec federalists. Ed. – Again, note the removal of “Liberal” from the sentence. Cute.

UPDATE 1: The Toronto Star has proffered similar conclusions this morning on the Libs attempt to tar the BQ's as a way to deflect attention.

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