Skip to main content Start of content

House Publications

The Debates are the report—transcribed, edited, and corrected—of what is said in the House. The Journals are the official record of the decisions and other transactions of the House. The Order Paper and Notice Paper contains the listing of all items that may be brought forward on a particular sitting day, and notices for upcoming items.

For an advanced search, use Publication Search tool.

If you have any questions or comments regarding the accessibility of this publication, please contact us at accessible@parl.gc.ca.

Previous day publication Next day publication
Skip to Document Navigation Skip to Document Content

41st PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 250

CONTENTS

Thursday, May 9, 2013




House of Commons Debates

VOLUME 146 
l
NUMBER 250 
l
1st SESSION 
l
41st PARLIAMENT 

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Speaker: The Honourable Andrew Scheer

    The House met at 10 a.m.

Prayers



ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Routine Proceedings]

  (1005)  

[English]

Government Response to Petitions

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to one petition.

Committees of the House

International Trade 

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the seventh report of the Standing Committee on International Trade entitled, “Report on a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement Between Canada and India”.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to that report.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the New Democratic Party is in favour of broadening and deepening economic relations between Canada and India. We believe that a well-structured comprehensive economic partnership agreement between Canada and India could lead to worthwhile business opportunities for both countries.
    The NDP generally supports the report's findings and recommendations. However, we think they are incomplete. We think Canada's economic agreements can and must be improved. Our supplemental report contains findings and recommendations that we think will make it possible to truly create stronger, lasting trade relations with India.
    Without going into detail, we have concerns about workers' rights, the environment, public service and any abuse of labour mobility clauses. The NDP believes that Canadian treaties must protect Canadian exporters, increase exports of value-added products and create truly lasting employment for all Canadians.
    Therefore, we encourage continued dialogue with India for a CEPA, but we want the government to consider the important elements in our report.

[English]

Justice and Human Rights  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 24th report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in relation to Bill C-452, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (exploitation and trafficking in persons).

[Translation]

    The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House with amendments.

Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics.
    In accordance with its order of reference of Monday, February 25, 2013, the committee has considered votes 40 and 45 under Justice, votes 15 and 20 under Parliament, and vote 45 under Treasury Board in the main estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2014, less the amounts granted in interim supply, and reports the same.

[English]

Government Operations and Estimates  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 11th report of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates in relation to its study of the main estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2014.

Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 2013

Petitions

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation  

    Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present this morning.
    The first is signed by a group from my riding. They state that recently they were appalled by the CBC program This Hour Has 22 Minutes in which the most sacred sacrament of the Holy Communion was the object of an offensive and most disrespectful attack on the very core of our faith, the Holy Eucharist. Therefore, they ask the House of Commons to stop the federal funding of CBC, which is financed by our tax dollars.

Sex Selection  

    Mr. Speaker, the other petition consists of three petitions, all on the same topic. The petitioners call on the members of Parliament to condemn discrimination against girls through sex-selective abortion and to do all we can to prevent sex-selective abortions from being carried out in Canada.

Genetically Modified Alfalfa  

    Mr. Speaker, I am rising today pursuant to Standing Order 36 to table a petition signed by local residents who are urging the government to impose a moratorium on genetically modified alfalfa.
    There has yet to be a transparent process established to determine the genetics, preservation or production of GM organisms, nor are there any measures for establishing the possibility of co-existence or cross-contamination or for appropriate mechanisms for transportation.
    I am pleased to table this petition. I look forward to the government's response.

Canada Post  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present this petition signed by a large number of constituents. It concerns the closing of three Canada Post offices: one in Westmount, one in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce and one in Snowdon.
    These post offices were closed without public consultation the way public consultation should occur, and are at the heart of the communities that are affected by the closing.
    I would ask the government to reconsider its decision.

Health  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present this petition regarding physical activity.
    A lack of physical activity is a major public health issue in Canada. Canadian children are getting more than six hours per day of screen time, and are spending more than half their waking hours sitting down. Only 9% of boys and 4% of girls meet the Canadian physical activity guidelines.
    The petitioners call upon the government to work with the provinces and territories to develop a comprehensive pan-Canadian strategy to promote physical activity, to commit to the resulting strategy and to make the necessary investments.

  (1010)  

[Translation]

Canada-China Investment Treaty  

    Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise to present two petitions.
    The first petition has been signed primarily by people from Parksville and Qualicum Beach, in British Columbia, as well as people from Mississauga and Grimsby, in Ontario.
    The petitioners are calling on the Prime Minister and his cabinet ministers to not ratify the Canada-China investment treaty because it will undermine Canada's sovereignty, as well as its environmental, labour, health and other regulations and protections.

[English]

Shark Finning  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition is on the subject of shark finning, and calls for the government to regulate the trade, distribution and offer for sale of shark fins.
    More than 90 million sharks a year are killed simply to take their fins for a specific delicacy. The petitioners, in this case from Surrey, Victoria and Vancouver, urge that we do whatever we can to stop this practice.

Questions on the Order Paper

    Mr. Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Nos. 1258, 1259, 1261 and 1262.

[Text]

Question No. 1258--
Mr. Robert Aubin:
     With regard to the next review of the Canadian Postal Service Charter: (a) when will the government begin work on the review of the Canadian Postal Service Charter; (b) what form will the review process take; (c) what criteria will be used to determine whether the Charter meets requirements or whether it must be revised; and (d) will there be an opportunity for public input during the review of the Canadian Postal Service Charter and, if so, how will this input be obtained?
Hon. Steven Fletcher (Minister of State (Transport), CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), (b), (c) and (d), under the Canadian Postal Service Charter, the government is to review the charter every five years after its adoption to assess the need to adapt the charter to changing requirements. Since the charter was announced in September 2009, the first five-year review would not be until September 2014.
Question No. 1259--
Mr. Nathan Cullen:
     With regard to written questions Q-1226 to Q-1237, Q-1244 and Q-1245, what is the estimated cost to the government for each response to each question?
Mr. Tom Lukiwski (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, as these answers were tabled very recently, the government is currently compiling the cost information for producing these responses. Once all the cost information has been received, the government will provide a supplementary response.
Question No. 1261--
Mr. Ted Hsu:
     With regard to the recent sale of crown land owned by the Correctional Service of Canada, in the amount of 1,554.48 square metres, located on Frontenac Institution in Kingston, Ontario: (a) who was the purchaser; (b) what was the purchase price; (c) what was the closing date of the transaction; (d) what were all of the measures taken to respect the Commissioner’s Directive for Real Property for the Correctional Service of Canada, in particular the statement, under Principles, that, “acquisition and disposal of real property assets will be done in a fair and open manner, which shall include public consultation”; (e) what was the first date of any communications regarding the sale of this land between the government and the purchaser; (f) what was the first date of any communications regarding the sale of this land between the government and parties who expressed interest but ultimately did not purchase the land; and (g) what was the first date of any communications regarding the sale of this land between the government and parties other than those in (e) and (f)?
Hon. Vic Toews (Minister of Public Safety, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, as of March 25, 2013, the sale of the Crown land owned by CSC located on Frontenac Institution in Kingston, Ontario, has yet to be finalized. Therefore, CSC is unable to respond to the question, pending the completion of the sale.
Question No. 1262--
Mr. Ted Hsu:
     With regard to the the Western Canada Marine Response Corporation vessel that ran aground while traveling from its base to the Coal Harbour News conference: (a) on what date was the decision made to have a vessel travel from its base to the Coal Harbour News conference; (b) who approved the decision to have a vessel travel to the Coal Harbour News conference, (i) which Ministers and Departments were involved with the decision, (ii) who had signing authority to authorize a vessel to travel to the Coal Harbour News conference; (c) what correspondence exists regarding the decision to have a vessel available for the press conference; (d) what correspondence exists regarding the follow-up after the vessel scheduled for the press conference ran aground; (e) what was the cost of having a vessel travel to the Coal Harbour news conference for the Western Canada Response Corporation, broken down by (i) cost of personnel, (ii) cost of transport including fuel, (iii) cost of equipment; (f) what was the cost of having a vessel travel to the Coal Harbour news conference for the government, broken down by (i) cost of personnel, (ii) cost of transport including fuel, (iii) cost of equipment, (iv) cost of wear and tear; (g) what was the dollar value of the damages incurred when the vessel ran aground, and where will the funds to pay for these damages come from; (h) what are the costs of repairs to the vessel for damages incurred; (i) what are the operational impacts to the vessel and the projected days that the vessel is expected to be out of commission; and (j) how many days has the vessel been out of commission as a result of this grounding to date?
Hon. Denis Lebel (Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a) to (j), the president of the Western Canada Marine Response Corporation was invited by Port Metro Vancouver, which was hosting the Government of Canada’s world-class tanker safety system press conference. After being invited to participate in the event, Western Canada Marine Response volunteered to send the vessel to demonstrate its capacity to the public.
    The Western Canada Marine Response Corporation routinely informs the public about its activities and the organization participated in this event at no cost to taxpayers.
    The vessel had a brief soft landing on an uncharted sandbar amid the silt in the mouth of the Fraser River, moved away within minutes, and continued on without any damage. As per regulations, this was reported to Canada vessel traffic and Transport Canada so that others would be aware of this uncharted sandbar.
    For more information, the member may contact the Western Marine Response Corporation.

[English]

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns

     Mr. Speaker, if Questions Nos. 1254, 1255, 1256 and 1257 could be made orders for return, these returns would be tabled immediately.
    The Speaker: Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

[Text]

Question No. 1254--
Ms. Kirsty Duncan:
     With regard to access to information requests ATI 2012-005 and 2012-006 submitted by Ms. Kirsty Duncan, M.P., for which a response was sent on February 22, 2013: (a) on what date were the two submissions made and what was the timeframe for completing the response; (b) why were the two requests returned together, some parts featuring page numbers and others not; (c) how many updates have been received from the Canadian Chronic Cerebrospinal Venous Insufficiency (CCSVI) Systematic Review Group to date, (i) how many studies in total have met the criteria for inclusion in the review, (ii) why does the group not identify, for each complication, the number of cases per number of people treated, (iii) why does the government not provide, for each serious complication listed, the number of cases per population treated; (d) on what date was the request for proposals for the CCSVI trials first drafted, (i) how may drafts were undertaken and on what dates, (ii) how many people worked on these drafts, for how many hours, and at what average cost to taxpayers, (iii) on what date did the provincial and territorial Ministers of Health review the draft, (iv) what was the feedback provided; (e) why, on November 22, 2012, was the amount available for the CCSVI trials in the range of $3-5 million, (i) what is the significance of the expression “should we just fudge a number”; (f) how was the decision made to earmark $3 million for the CCSVI trials and on what date was the decision made; (g) on what date and at what time was the Request for Applications (RFA) announcement for clinical trials published on the Canadian Institute for Health Research (CIHR)'s website, (i) on what date and at what time was Bill C-280, An Act to establish a National Strategy for Chronic Cerebrospinal Venous Insufficiency (CCSVI), scheduled to be debated; (h) why was there a change by the President's office at CIHR that the commitment from the CIHR be $2 million with the balance to come from partners, i.e. the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada (MSSC) and ''relevant provinces and territories'', and what were the relevant provinces and territories referred to; (i) how many versions of the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) research update deck were produced and on what dates, (i) how many people worked on these drafts, for how many hours, and at what average cost to taxpayers, (ii) when was the final draft presented, and for what purpose; (j) how many government MPs has the Health Minister met with on the issue of CCSVI/MS since May 2010, and how many government MPs have the Minister's officials met with on the issue of CCSVI/MS since May 2010; (k) how many draft speeches were prepared for government MPs for Motion M-274, (i) how many versions of each speech were produced and on what dates, (ii) how many people worked on these drafts, for how many hours, and at what average cost to taxpayers, (iii) how many government MPs read these prepared speeches; (l) regarding the briefing note for Dr. Alain Beaudet`s meeting with Dr. Jeffrey Turnbull, President of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) on December 21, 2010, why did a recommendation in the briefing note state “The possibility of the CMA producing a position statement regarding patient access to physicians for patients who have received the Zamboni procedure”, and “The fact that CIHR would be willing to provide the CMA with any necessary support in order to produce this statement”, when the Scientific Expert Working Group (SEWG) stated that, “media reports that have stated that Multiple Sclerosis (MS) patients who experience complications after Chronic Cerebrospinal Venous Insufficiency (CCSVI) treatment are not being seen by Canadian doctors are not justified”; (m) regarding the briefing note for Dr. Alain Beaudet's meeting with Paul Emile Cloutier, CEO of the CMA on January 31, 2012, which shows CMA President Haggie testified before a Senate committee on Dec 2, 2011, and a House committee on October 17, 2011, (i) did President Haggie bring up at either committee meeting CMA's lack of support for either bills C-280 or S-204, (ii) why was President Haggie unaware of the lack of follow-up care for MS patients treated for CCSVI when President Turnbull was made aware, (iii) why was there a hiatus in correspondence with the CMA, (iv) for how long was the hiatus, (v) when did the hiatus end; (n) regarding the MS-Societies' seven funded studies regarding CCSVI, why was there, at the 18-month mark, an inquiry into the training of the teams, (i) which of the teams were trained by Dr. Zamboni and which individual members of each team were trained by Dr. Zamboni, (ii) which of the teams were trained by Dr. Zivadinov and which individual members of each team were trained by Dr. Zivadinov, (iii) which teams were trained by neither or by another team; (o) how many people worked on drafts of prepared speeches for bill C-280, An Act to establish a National Strategy for Chronic Cerebrospinal Venous Insufficiency (CCSVI), for how many hours, and at what average cost to taxpayers and how many government MPs read these prepared speeches; (p) how many people worked on drafts of prepared speeches for bill S-204, An Act to establish a National Strategy for Chronic Cerebrospinal Venous Insufficiency (CCSVI), for how many hours, and at what average cost to taxpayers, (i) how many government Senators read these prepared speeches; (q) on what dates was the Canadian MS Monitoring System to be ready to receive data and when did the system start collecting data; (r) is the government's position regarding MS patients’ input into the Scientific Expert Working Group (SEWG) in accordance with the statement "CIHR's Scientific Expert Working Group includes researchers with expertise in different disciplines such as neurology, vascular surgery and vascular imaging who are treating MS patients and who will be bringing their patients' concerns to the table" (ATIP); (s) is it still the government's position that "Benoit's motion speaks far more to PHAC's monitoring system than anything we are doing on the trials front" (ATIP); (t) how many draft MS slide decks were prepared for Senatorial Caucus, (i) how many versions of each deck were produced and on what dates, (ii) how many people worked on these drafts, for how many hours, and at what average cost to taxpayers, (iii) who presented the deck to the Senatorial Caucus; (u) is the government's position as per the information sheet provided when Dr. Alain Beaudet wrote to the Colleges of Physicians on February 29, 2012 which says, “MS patients who have received a venous procedure abroad should be reassured that they will be continued to be cared for by their physicians and/or regular MS specialists as any other patients?” or is it that follow-up care is primarily the responsibility of provincial and territorial governments to ensure that no Canadian is denied post-treatment and follow-up care (ATIP) and what role does the federal government have if patients are being denied follow-up care by a province or territory; (v) why did the government ask the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada (MSSC) on February 7, 2012 about approved venous angioplasty; (w) is it still the government's position that the MS documentary that aired on the Nature of Things on February 9, 2012, was “balanced and fair”; (x) why does a February 16, 2012 e-mail list MS patients who are also CCSVI advocates; (y) is the government's position regarding imaging for CCSVI in accordance with the International Society for NeuroVascular Disease (ISNVD) venography statement and consensus document and, if not, why not; and (z) does the government know how many Canadians are actually impacted by MS, (i) if so, what is the number, (ii) if not, why not; and (aa) when Dr. Alain Beaudet wrote to the Colleges of Physicians on February 29, 2012, (i) why was the list of 11 recent peer-reviewed publications provided not a comprehensive list, (i) why did the list not specify what were positive and negative studies, and what imaging techniques were used, (ii) for MS patients who are denied follow-up care, what recourse and resources do they have, (iii) what is the position of the Scientific Expert Working Group concerning MS patients who have been denied follow-up care, such as Roxanne Garland?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1255--
Ms. Ruth Ellen Brosseau:
     With regard to the repeal of regulations related to container standards announced in Budget 2011: (a) when exactly will these changes be made; (b) what is the consultation process for making these changes; (c) how much time is scheduled for each step of the process; (d) in his testimony before the AGRI committee on February 28, 2013, the Minister of Agriculture said that some industries can choose not to adopt the regulatory changes, what does this mean for foreign products that do not meet Canadian sizes; (e) are there plans to set aside funds to upgrade equipment (for example, to package the previously non-standard new containers) so that manufacturing companies can remain competitive; (f) what industries were consulted to determine whether the regulations should be repealed; (g) what are the reasons for repealing regulations related to container standards; (h) what industries, groups, stakeholders or companies called for the repeal of regulations related to container standards; (i) are there studies or reports on the economic impact of repealing these regulations and, if so, what are they; (j) will there be changes for requesting and administering ministerial exemptions and, if so, what are they; (k) were analyses done to determine how repealing regulations related to container standards could improve inter-provincial trade; (l) are there expected to be savings or extra costs for Canadian food processors following the repeal of regulations related to container standards and, if so, what kind; (m) are there expected to be savings or extra costs for consumers following the repeal of regulations related to container standards and, if so, what kind; and (n) are there expected to be savings or extra costs for farmers following the repeal of regulations related to container standards and, if so, what kind?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1256--
Hon. Geoff Regan:
     With respect to offences related to money and other assets held offshore, for the period from April 1, 2006, to March 31, 2012: (a) how many convictions were there during this period; (b) what are the details of each conviction in (a) including (i) the name of the individual(s) convicted, (ii) the name and type (i.e. civil or criminal) of offense, (iii) the amount of money or the type of asset and the value of the asset involved, (iv) the location of the money or asset involved, (v) the possible range of penalties/sentences upon conviction, (vi) the actual penalty and/or sentence received, (vii) whether the conviction was achieved through sentencing, plea bargain, settlement, or another means, (viii) the amount of time that passed between the commencement of an audit, investigation, or some other form of compliance action in respect of the offence and the date of conviction; (c) how many offences related to money and other assets held offshore were considered or referred for civil prosecution during this period but never pursued; (d) how many offences related to money and other assets held offshore were considered or referred for criminal prosecution during this period but never pursued; (e) how many offences related to money and other assets held offshore were prosecuted civilly during this period but were thrown out of court or lost in court; and (f) how many offences related to money and other assets held offshore were prosecuted criminally during this period but were thrown out of court or lost in court?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1257--
Mr. Scott Andrews:
     With regard to the March 18, 2013, announcement by the Minister of Natural Resources and the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities in Vancouver, British Columbia: (a) what flights took place in Atlantic Canada as part of the National Aerial Surveillance Program in 2011-2012 specifying (i) number of flights, (ii) date of each flight, (iii) geographic area covered, (iv) what, if any, pollution occurrences were detected; (b) how many flights are proposed for Atlantic Canada in 2013, 2014 and 2015; and (c) pertaining to Tanker Safety, and more specifically, public port designation, what is the plan for designating more ports in Newfoundland and Labrador and what are the names of these ports?
    (Return tabled)

[English]

     Mr. Speaker, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.
     The Speaker: Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

Privilege

Scope of Private Members' Bills  

[Privilege]
    Mr. Speaker, I feel I need to address the question of privilege raised by my hon. colleague opposite regarding my private member's Bill C-425, which amends the Citizenship Act. From the time I tabled my bill, I have been clear in saying that I am open to friendly amendments that are in line with the aims and intent of my legislation, which is to create more pathways to integration, reward those who put their lives on the line for Canada and underscore the immense value of Canadian citizenship.
    The second part of my bill revokes citizenship from a person who demonstrates deep disloyalty to Canada and Canadian values. My colleagues opposite want the House to believe that amending my bill to articulate acts of terrorism is not in line with the original intent of my bill. I can tell the House, as the author of the bill, that strengthening it to include acts of terrorism in addition to treason is well within my stated aims and intentions.
    I also want to remind my colleagues opposite that as feared, the threat of terrorism has become very real to Canadians in recent days and months. I believe we, as members of Parliament and members of the committees of this House, have an obligation to take these threats seriously and need to be able to deal efficiently and effectively with the issues that touch the lives of Canadian citizens in a timely manner.
    The members opposite perhaps forgot that a national poll conducted on this matter showed that over 80% Canadians agreed that the citizenship should be revoked of those who commit acts of terrorism. I hope my colleagues opposite are not using delay tactics to thwart the will of Canadians, but from this side of the House I am afraid that it looks as though they are. Perhaps they should be clear about their intentions. Do they oppose stripping citizenship from convicted terrorists? If they do, they need to come clean and say so.
    Adding serious convicted terrorists to my bill wholly conforms to the spirit and intent of my legislation. I have been talking about stripping the citizenship of those who act against our Canadian values and commit violent acts of disloyalty. Being a terrorist is absolutely against our Canadian values and should be condemned in the strongest possible terms.
    I would hope the opposition members would appreciate an extra three hours to debate my bill and make their case. Perhaps they could use the extra time to clarify their position. Do they support removing citizenship from convicted terrorists or not? Canadians need to see their Parliament able to act and act quickly in the interests of safety and security of its people.
    I urge opposition members to stop playing politics with this issue as it can have dire consequences. Or they should tell Canadians why we need to keep convicted terrorists in Canada. The House should be allowed to have a debate regarding the scope of my bill, especially in the light of recent, timely events that have put homegrown terrorism front and centre in the minds of Canadians and have put Canada's reputation at stake at the international level.

  (1015)  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise in response to the interventions made by the hon. members for Toronto Centre and Saint-Lambert concerning the eighth report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration.
    This report contains the request that the committee be granted the power to expand the scope of Bill C-425, an act to amend the Citizenship Act (honouring the Canadian Armed Forces), such that the provisions of the bill not be limited to the Canadian Armed Forces.
    One member suggested that the report itself is out of order, while the other suggested that the recommended instruction is deficient and, therefore, out of order.
    I disagree with both of these assessments.
    Let me address the first of these objections, the one put forward by the hon. member for Toronto Centre.
    At the core of his presentation, he argued that Standing Order 97.1 excludes the possibility of a committee seeking an instruction in relation to a private member's bill, because that Standing Order enumerates three reports—not two as the honourable and learned member said—that a committee may present within 60 days of an order of reference.
    The hon. member made reference to one approach to legal interpretation in support of his view. On the other hand, I would offer a different school of thought on interpretation, the mischief rule; in other words, what problem or mischief was being remedied when a law was enacted.
    To this end, I would refer members to the 13th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs presented during the first session of the 36th Parliament, back in 1997.
    In the section on the disposition of bills by committees, the report observes:
    A number of private Members' bills that have received second reading and been referred to committee have unfortunately disappeared and never been heard from again.... We are not in a position to comment on specific cases, but we do wish to prevent this situation from arising in the future.
    There you go, Mr. Speaker. The intent was not to interfere with or restrict the manner in which a committee can consider legislation, but just that a committee cannot sit on a private member's bill indefinitely.
    This was echoed in the Private Members' Business Practical Guide, 9th edition, which was published in October 2008 under the authority of the Clerk of the House of Commons. At page 16, under the heading of “Committee Consideration of Bills”, one reads that:
    A votable Private Members' bill follows the normal procedure for a bill: if second reading is agreed to by the House, the bill is referred to a committee for the hearing of witnesses, clause-by-clause study and possible amendment.
    The guide then discusses the rules that are particular to private members' bills: deadlines to report and proceedings on recommendations not to proceed further.
    Nothing is suggested in this publication of the House to suggest that these types of bills are exempt from procedure on instructions.
    I would further argue that Standing Order 97.1 has also not been circumvented by the eighth report. The Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration remains seized by Bill C-425, and it remains subject to the 60-day sitting deadline established by that standing committee to dispose of the bill. Indeed citation 684.1 of Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms of the House of Commons of Canada, 6th edition, advises that:
    The Instruction should not be given while a bill is still in the possession of the House but rather after it has come into the possession of the committee.
    Therefore, it follows that the committee remains seized with Bill C-425 and, consequently, has not made, yet, any of the reports required by Standing Order 97.1.
    Having demonstrated that Standing Order 97.1 does not exclude the ability of the House to give an instruction to a committee on a private member's bill, as argued by the hon. member for Toronto Centre, I will now turn to the argument advanced by the hon. member for Saint-Lambert about the requested instruction itself.
    Instructions are not common in our contemporary practice, which page 752 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice explains:
    Motions of instruction derive from British practice during the second half of the nineteenth century. They were carried over into the practice of the Canadian House of Commons, although they have rarely been used.
    Therefore, I will be referring to some of our older texts and United Kingdom authorities in addition to our contemporary procedural books.

  (1020)  

    Page 752 of O'Brien and Bosc states:
    Once a bill has been referred to a committee, the House may instruct the committee by way of a motion authorizing what would otherwise be beyond its powers, such as...expanding or narrowing the scope or application of a bill. A committee that so wishes may also seek an instruction from the House.
    Then at page 992, the manner for committees to obtain additional powers is described. It states:
    If a standing, legislative or special committee requires additional powers, they may be conferred on the committee by an order of the House...or by concurrence in a committee report requesting the conferring of those powers.
    Indeed, the chair of the citizenship committee cited this at the committee's meeting on April 23, and then added, “That's what...[the hon. member for St. Catharines] is doing with his motion”.
    Citation 681(2) of Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms, sixth edition, observes that:
    The purpose of the Instruction must be supplementary and ancillary to the purpose of the bill, and must fall within the general scope and framework of the bill. It is irregular to introduce into a bill, by an Instruction to the committee, a subject which should properly form the substance of a distinct measure, having regard to usage and the general practice of enacting distinct statutes for distinct branches of law.
    Citation 222 of Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms, fourth edition, traces that proposition to an 1893 ruling of Mr. Speaker Peel of the United Kingdom House of Commons.
     In the present instance, we are considering a proposal for the extension of the objects of Bill C-425. These types of instructions are explained in citation no. 686(1) of Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms, sixth edition. It states:
    An Instruction is necessary to authorize the introduction into a bill of amendments, which extend its provisions to objects not strictly covered by the subject-matter of the bill as agreed to on the second reading, provided that these objects are cognate to its general purposes.
    This statement, as distilled from citation 226(2) of Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms, fourth edition, quotes at length pages 398 and 399 of the 13th edition of Erskine May. There is one portion of that passage that I would like to add to the record. It states:
    The object of an instruction is, therefore, to endow a committee with power whereby the committee can perfect and complete the legislation defined by the contents of the Bill, or extend the provisions of a Bill to cognate objects....
    Page 559 of Erskine May's Parliamentary Practice, 24th edition, offers the same abbreviated advice we saw in Beauchesne's sixth edition. The British text then goes on to recite several examples of instructions to this effect. The first bill on that list offers a compelling parallel. It states:
    The Public Bodies (Admission of the Press to Meetings) Bill 1959-60 was limited to the single purpose of admitting the press to meetings. An instruction was necessary to extend the bill to the general public.
    The Chair may be interested in knowing that the bill was also a private member's bill. In fact, many of the bills on that list, as I understand, were private member's bills.
     As a historical aside, members may be interested in knowing that the sponsor of that 1959 bill was a then young, up-and-coming member of Parliament by the name of Margaret Thatcher. To be clear, though, the text of the instruction in relation to Mrs. Thatcher's bill bears similarities to the case now before us. The British motion is found at column 1,064 of volume 619 of the United Kingdom House of Commons Debates for March 14, 1960. It states:
...That it be an Instruction to the Committee on the Bill that they have power to make provision in the Bill for requiring members of the public other than representatives of the Press to be admitted to meetings of bodies exercising public functions, and for matters arising out of their admission.
    In the case of Bill C-425, we have legislation that proposes to make two changes to the Citizenship Act with reference to the Canadian Armed Forces. The eighth report simply proposes that the citizenship committee be empowered to consider amendments that extend the application of those two objects to circumstances not involving the Canadian Armed Forces specifically.

  (1025)  

    As I understand the context, it became apparent at committee that the “act of war” is not defined clearly in either our domestic law or international laws, so that those references in Bill C-425 needed to be clarified. Amendments were to be proposed to address and clarify this.
    Moreover, the committee heard suggestions about convicted terrorists in the context of the provisions for deemed applications for renunciation of citizenship. Amendments were also to be proposed in this vein.
    I am further informed that there was an interpretation by the committee clerk that these amendments could be outside the scope of the bill. I am also told that the 8th report, which is now before the House, was drafted with the assistance of one or more committee clerks.
    This report specifically addresses what committee members have been grappling with through their study of the bill, while at the same time being careful not to hamstring their own deliberations or to risk bringing forward a report with inadmissible amendments, as contemplated at pages 775 and 776 of O'Brien and Bosc.
    Additionally, there was a view that this action was consistent with the intentions of the sponsor of Bill C-425, the hon. member for Calgary Northeast.
    Ultimately, it is up to the House to decide what to do with Bill C-425. The discretion of the House and the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration remains unfettered. Should a motion to concur in the 8th report be moved, the House would have a concurrence debate and vote in which all members would have an opportunity to have a say on the proposed instruction. Should the report be concurred in, the instruction to the committee would be permissive; that is to say that the committee is not mandated to amend the bill in such a manner.
    Should the committee report the bill with amendments consistent with the instruction, it remains up to the House to accept the amendments, reverse them or propose further amendments when Bill C-425 is considered at report stage. Alternatively, the House retains the option of defeating the bill.
    In summary, the intention of the instructions sought by the citizenship committee is not overly broad and results in an intelligible outcome. It is consistent with instructions authorizing the extension of the objects of a bill. It is for a purpose cognate to Bill C-425. It does not import a different subject matter into the bill or seek to amend other parent acts.
    Finally, it does not propose an alternative scheme contradictory to the principle of the bill adopted at second reading.
    Therefore, I respectfully submit that the 8th report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration is admissible.
    Mr. Speaker, I will be somewhat brief, but it is important that we be perfectly clear about what is happening here.
    I sit on the citizenship and immigration committee. I am very familiar with the motion that has been proposed by the government and I want to make two quick points.
    It is interesting to note that both the mover and the parliamentary secretary who spoke to this issue are implying motives in one sense. We are not using this in any form to filibuster or to prolong debate on Bill C-425, and that is important to note. We raised it as a question of privilege a couple of weeks ago because we believe it is important that private members' bills be respected for what they are as they go through the process, and you, through your office, Mr. Speaker, will be reviewing that. This is not a delay tactic in any way.
    The parliamentary secretary made reference to “perfect and complete”. He is suggesting that the amendments that the government wants to propose at committee stage are going to make it “perfect and complete”, and he cites Beauchesne's and other rules of order to substantiate that comment, but what is clear is that the government, and particularly the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, intends to change the scope of the legislation.
    The legislation can be best described as proposing two things. First, it would reduce the amount of time that a landed immigrant would be required to be here in Canada in order to receive his or her citizenship. As opposed to waiting three years, the individual would only be required to wait two years to acquire citizenship if that individual is a member of the Canadian Forces. That is the number one reason behind Bill C-425. Second, if a Canadian citizen commits an act of war against the Canadian Forces, that individual would be deemed to have denounced his or her Canadian citizenship.
    Those were the two issues related to Bill C-425. Then guests were invited to participate in the committee hearings, and individuals started to change the focus of the bill. Then we found out that the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration wanted the principle of the bill to be about terrorism as opposed to the issue of citizenship and the act of war on the Canadian Forces.
    As a result, government members on committee recognized that they were attempting to change the scope of the private member's bill, and that was the reason government members put forward a motion for the bill to be brought back to the House before we went into clause-by-clause consideration: it was because they recognized that they had to change its scope.
    I cannot tell the House how many times I have sat in a committee or in caucus where there has been a discussion about members not being allowed to change the scope of legislation. That is very clearly what is happening here. My concern is that the government wants to use its majority in the House to override a very important principle of private members' bills as well as the process involved with them.
    Let me talk about the process of a private member's bill very briefly. First there are two hours of debate in the House, and then the bill goes to committee. The bill can be discussed for 60 hours at committee stage; it then comes back to the House, where it is debated for two hours and then ultimately voted on.
    We do not want to use private members' hour as a back door for government legislation, and that is what we would be opening it to.
    I caution all members of the House to review what has taken place and what the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration hopes to do. The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration should be bringing in his own piece of legislation.
    My advice to all members, and particularly to you, Mr. Speaker, is to protect the rights of individual members to bring in their own bills without having them hijacked by the government making changes to their scope.

  (1030)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to respond to one brief point made by my friend from Winnipeg.
    He cautioned you, Mr. Speaker, against allowing private members to propose legislation that might have the same scope as the government can propose in legislation. That would be a very alarming interpretation.
    I understand that for the Liberal Party, it has always been about ensuring that individual members of Parliament do not have any power here. However, in the rules of the House, they do have the same power as the government to propose legislation. It is a strong power, and we believe it is important that private members be allowed that power.
    There are some who argue that private members do not have as much power in this day and age as they once did. The reality is that in Parliament, more private members' legislation is becoming law than in any other Parliament in Canadian history, because we finally have a government that empowers private members in its caucus to bring forward legislation on important issues. It allows them to do that. It gives them the freedom to participate in a meaningful way in the legislative process on matters that are important to them.
    I have to respectfully differ with my friend when he says that private members have to be restricted in some way, shape or form, have to be prevented from introducing meaningful legislation. The proposal from the deputy House leader is a very dangerous proposition.

  (1035)  

    Mr. Speaker, I will be extremely brief. Suffice it to say that there is clearly no privilege in this case.
    No privileges of any member have been impugned because, as I pointed out in my intervention, procedurally, we are—“we” being the House—absolutely within our rights to give instructions to a committee to expand a bill.
    I gave the one reference and the one example in my intervention of the 1959-1960 bill by Margaret Thatcher. The intent of that bill was to allow members of the press, and only members of the press, to attend committee hearings. Mrs. Thatcher wanted to expand that to allow members of the general public to also attend hearings. Therefore, the House gave instructions to that effect to the committee, which then made the proper amendments, and the resulting bill allowed both members of the press and the general public.
    The point is that the House has the complete authority to give instructions to a committee to allow it to expand the scope of a bill. That is the procedure of this place. Therefore, there is no privilege argument to refute that.
    I thank all hon. colleagues for their further contributions.
    As the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons just stated, and as I stated last week when this issue was first brought to my attention, I am not treating this as a question of privilege but as a point of order, because it has to do with procedural reporting of the committee. There is no evidence of members' rights and privileges having been affected.
    I think that when the hon. member for Toronto Centre raised this issue, he should properly have raised it as a point of order, and that is how I will be treating it.

Government Orders

[Business of Supply]

[Translation]

Business of Supply

Opposition Motion—2013 Spring Report of the Auditor General of Canada  

    That, in light of $3.1 billion of missing funds outlined in Chapter Eight of the 2013 Spring Report of the Auditor General of Canada, an order of the House do issue for the following documents from 2001 to the present, allowing for redaction based on national security: (a) all Public Security and Anti-Terrorism annual reports submitted to the Treasury Board Secretariat; (b) all Treasury Board submissions made as part of the Initiative; (c) all departmental evaluations of the Initiative; (d) the Treasury Board corporate database established to monitor funding; that these records be provided to the House in both official languages by June 17, 2013; that the Speaker make arrangements for these records to be made available online; and that the Auditor-General be given all necessary resources to perform an in-depth forensic audit until the missing $3.1 billion is found and accounted for.
    He said: Mr. Speaker, I wish to inform you that I will be sharing my time.
    I like to try to look at things with as much clarity and wisdom as possible. My dear colleagues will no doubt agree that when the sun is shining, everything is bright and everything is good. Spring has arrived, bringing warmth and hope to all of us, right?
    This is therefore a very good time for the tabling of the Auditor General's report. Unfortunately, this debate brings very little light with it. The government is quoting the Auditor General out of context, in order to defend itself. The truth is that, once again, this government has proven that it is a bad fiscal manager and that, although it claims to spend taxpayers' money judiciously, it is not paying close enough attention.
    The Auditor General did a good job. I would remind the House that in chapter 8 of his spring 2013 report, a chapter entitled “Spending on the Public Security and Anti-Terrorism Initiative”, he states:
    Information on whether departments used $3.1 billion in initiative funding was not available.
    It is simple. It means that they did not find any trace of this money, period. During his audit, the Auditor General asked the Treasury Board Secretariat for information that could help explain how the balance of $3.1 billion allocated between 2001 and 2009 was spent.
    No clear explanation has been given, but the secretariat has admitted that one possible scenario is that the funds were allocated to various public security and anti-terrorism activities but categorized as ongoing program spending.
    It is important to remember how the Auditor General arrived at that sum of $3.1 billion. In 2003, the Treasury Board Secretariat received funding to strengthen its ability to properly report on and evaluate horizontal public security and anti-terrorism, PSAT, activities.
    The secretariat was the only department in the entire federal government to collect financial and non-financial information from a number of departments and agencies on this initiative. The information was stored in a departmental database designed for that purpose.
    In addition, at the end of 2003, the secretariat established a reporting framework. The Treasury Board expected the departments and agencies to comply with the secretariat's reporting requirements.
    The framework required departments and agencies to provide yearly financial and non-financial information about their PSAT-related activities. Then, the Auditor General reviewed departmental projects and approved allocations to determine how much funding had been granted to departments and agencies for the PSAT initiative.
    The Auditor General found that, from 2001 to 2009, $12.9 billion was approved for department and agency programming under the PSAT initiative. Treasury Board Secretariat officials agreed with the Auditor General's analysis. The Auditor General then reviewed certain annual reports to see whether the departments had submitted their expenditures and the actual results of the initiative to Treasury Board every year. This covered the expenditures and results that were clearly stated and corresponded to the themes and objectives of the initiative.
    By using the information about expenditures set out in the annual reports, the Auditor General determined that, of the $12.9 billion allocated, the departments and agencies had reported to Treasury Board that approximately $9.8 billion had been spent on PSAT-related activities. That leaves $3.1 billion that the government cannot account for.

  (1040)  

    It is unbelievable. The Conservatives are establishing ineffective and unnecessary laws on terrorism that violate our civil liberties, yet they are unable to say whether the astronomical amount of $3.1 billion allocated to the public security and anti-terrorism initiative was even spent. If it was, how was it spent and on what programs?
    What is more, the Auditor General's report showed a blatant and shocking lack of oversight with regard to government progress and the reports on funding for public security. Unfortunately, today, we can add to this amount the $2.4 billion in contracts awarded to external consultants for which the government also does not have any reports.
    This did not just occur in 2009. What happened in 2010? Well, the Auditor General and his assistant had plenty of interesting things to say on this subject. They said that their audit stopped there and that it was at that point that this method of reporting was done away with. They added that the Treasury Board Secretariat had stopped collecting data from departments through annual reports and that it was in the process of implementing another procedure that it hoped to launch in 2014.
    Yikes. The entire public security and anti-terrorism initiative is being called into question. The Auditor General noted that the Conservatives were not keeping track of money as they should have been and that the government had simply stopped counting. Instead of humbly accepting the Auditor General's report on this spending, the government decided to throw around quotes of his taken out of context.
    The President of the Treasury Board said that it was simply an accounting problem and that all of the information was available in the public accounts of Canada.
    Here is what the Office of the Auditor General told Maclean's reporters:
    The information reported annually in the public accounts was at an aggregate level and most of the PSAT spending was not separately reported as a distinct (or separate) line item. Furthermore, with over 10 years elapsing since the beginning of the PSAT program, much of that information is now archived and unavailable.
    Canadians do not have access to all of the information. The Conservatives are fond of defending their actions by sharing partial quotes from the Auditor General. The Conservatives and ministers like to use the following quote: “We didn't find anything that gave us cause for concern that the money was used in any way that it should not have been.”
    However, there is more to that quote: “...it's important for there to be...a way for people to understand how this money was spent and that summary reporting was not done.”
    What is also shocking is the Liberal Party's silence on this issue. Perhaps the Liberals realize that they are just as guilty. For example,why did they not take action in 2004? What did they do? Nothing. No, the Liberals have no credibility to condemn the Conservatives for losing $3.1 billion, considering their dismal record of losing $1 billion.
    If this government truly believes in properly managing taxpayer money, it will support this motion. That $3.1 billion is a lot of money. Our motion is simply asking for information. This government must provide all of the information available on the loss of $3.1 billion.

  (1045)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my NDP colleague from Pontiac on his excellent speech and excellent initiative.
    He has moved a motion that asks a fairly simple question: where has taxpayers' money gone? How can the Conservative government lose $3.1 billion and not know what happened to it?
    With Bill C-60, we see a government that wants to meddle in the negotiations of crown corporations' collective agreements. This paternalistic and condescending government is telling them that they are incapable of managing public money and that the President of the Treasury Board has to be at the negotiating table because he wants to ensure that public money is well spent.
    Why does the government feel that it is in a position to give crown corporations advice on how to run their affairs when it cannot keep track of $3.1 billion?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his very good question.
    There is a double standard. The Conservatives are poor managers. I think that they believe that managers and employees in the public service cannot manage. I firmly believe that our public servants are practically the best in the world. As for this government, that is another story.

  (1050)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, clearly there has been a significant problem tracking dollars. The Auditor General has identified it. We have yet to hear any response from the Conservatives and their administration as to how this money could have been so poorly tracked. We know from the Auditor General that it was not spent on national security, as far as he can see, although it might have been. It might have been shifted to other government spending, but there is no way to tell. It might not have been spent at all, but he does not know.
    That summary of what the Auditor General found is quite astonishing. It is a much larger amount of money that is missing, although the Conservatives, we know, will say, as they have in question period, that the Auditor General did not say there had been any wrongdoing. Obviously, the Auditor General cannot figure out where the money has gone. It is going to be a difficult forensic exercise.
    I wonder if the hon. member would comment on whether he believes that the motion from the official opposition will allow us to get to the bottom of the matter.
    Mr. Speaker, indeed, it is a forensic exercise, and that is why our motion proposes access to information that would allow us, as parliamentarians, to find out what happened to this $3.1 billion in missing money. It is a scandal. It is incredible that the President of the Treasury Board is absolutely incapable of saying what happened or of even indicating what might have happened. That is worrisome. The responsibility of a government is first, to take care of taxpayers' money, and this is a clear violation of that pact with the Canadian people.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my colleague on his very pertinent speech, which raises concerns about how this country is governed.
    I was wondering if he thinks that there is almost a systematic link to the culture of secrecy that exists within the Prime Minister's office and clearly dictates decisions and choices.
    My colleague from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie mentioned the unbelievable meddling in the CBC. I wonder if the ministers responsible for these agencies and crown corporations are even aware of the proposals in this bill.
    Does my colleague agree that this notion of secrecy that drives the Conservatives can result in this type of huge mistake?
    Mr. Speaker, I think so.
    I would like to add one more thing, and that is this government's inability to listen to its officials, the experts and now the Auditor General. It puts in place symbolic measures. It throws money around. It could not care less about how the money was spent. It could not care less whether reports were produced. It is totally incompetent.
    Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to speak to this motion.
    When I began my parliamentary career, I myself was on the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, where I had the opportunity to see various reports by the Auditor General, read the public accounts and see how the process works. That puts me in an even more interesting and beneficial position because I can see just how much of a mistake, a monumental oversight, losing $3.1 billion is. We are talking about billions of dollars here. It makes absolutely no sense.
    To begin with, I would just like to say that this is interesting because we are talking about a very large amount of money. However, day after day, we are on the receiving end of somewhat personal attacks by government MPs. They make up stories about this or that and create myths. They say that tax rates will increase because of the New Democratic Party's tax and spend plan. They can call it what they want, but it is this government, and not the NDP, that is mismanaging things and hurting Canadians by increasing their taxes. It is this government that, once again, lost $3.1 billion. I cannot say it enough.
    Today, when they get up during question period and say the same things yet again, you will note the irony in their attacks. Their government is in absolutely no position to criticize others about how they spend and manage taxpayers' money. It is quite disgraceful.
    What we are seeing today is also a question of ministerial accountability. Each day, the leader of the official opposition, the member for Outremont, has been raising this matter. The members for Welland and Pierrefonds—Dollard, who also serve on the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, are also asking about the $3.1 billion. The Prime Minister and the President of the Treasury Board disdainfully reply that they just have to look in the public accounts, that it is all there. That is simply not true; it is not in the public accounts.
    I would like to know if the President of the Treasury Board is going to go see the Auditor General and tell him that if he forgot to check something, he just needs to look in the public accounts because it is all in there. He needs to have a bit more respect than that for the Auditor General, his expertise and the work he does, work he was appointed to do. He is perfectly capable of saying whether or not the money is in the public accounts, and that is not the case today.
    I would like to thank the member for Pontiac for moving such an important motion, which is asking the government and the House to require that the necessary documents be provided to parliamentarians and the Auditor General so that they can do their work. The member for Pontiac mentioned the Auditor General's quote, which the government is repeating over and over again. It is just the opening of the quote. A teacher would not be too happy if a student were to use only part of a quote in a paper.
    I cannot imagine that taxpayers and the Auditor General are too happy that only part of a quote is being used. We have to look at the entire quote to understand what is being said, which is that there is no indication that the money was misspent—on things like gazebos, something the G8 fund was used for—but the fact remains that the money cannot be found. This is by definition a scandal, a disgrace and a very serious problem.
    The Auditor General said that the money does not seem to have been spent on anything illegal or inappropriate, but he does say in no uncertain terms that the money is nowhere to be found. He does not know what this money was spent on, which is a very serious problem. The President of the Treasury Board needs to live up to his ministerial responsibilities and submit the documents, not only to the Auditor General, but also to parliamentarians, so that we can exercise diligence and identify the problems.
    The funny thing is that this is not a new problem. The Conservative government is not alone in this. This problem started under the Liberals.

  (1055)  

    We saw this in 2004, when Sheila Fraser issued her report. She is a well-respected auditor general who did an incredible job, including uncovering the sponsorship scandal. I will save that topic for another day, but it was the same kind of mismanagement of taxpayers' money that we are seeing today. Ms. Fraser's 2004 report showed that there were serious structural problems with regard to how spending on the public security and anti-terrorism initiative was being reported and that the Treasury Board Secretariat needed to make some serious improvements.
    Nine years later, no improvements have been made and the problem still has not been resolved. This $3.1 billion is gone without a trace. That is a lot of money. What is more, when the Auditor General and his assistant appeared before the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, they said that instead of improving the way it accounts for money, the government seems to have stopped counting money altogether. New ways of reporting this money are being proposed for next year, but what do we do in the meantime?
    Considering the level of government spending we are talking about, if we spend an entire fiscal year without any mechanism in place or without making any improvements, we will be sucked into a black hole devoid of transparency, ethics and accountability. It is irresponsible.
    Yesterday, when the hon. member for Pontiac asked the government a question, I heard the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages jeering. He said that it had only been a year, which is not very long. He was wondering why we were whining. The government has spent that year making billions of dollars in expenditures without knowing where taxpayers' money is actually going. That is shameful and unacceptable.
    The public security and anti-terrorism initiative began in 2001 following the September 11 attacks, which is understandable because we were trying to improve public safety by implementing anti-terrorism measures. This is still a relevant issue. Think of the debate surrounding Bill S-7, which seeks to implement new anti-terrorism measures. I gave a speech about this bill about two weeks ago. In it, I mentioned that it is unfortunate that the government is making cuts to public safety resources. I also indicated that, rather than giving more resources to the men and women who protect us, for example RCMP officers, the government decided to make cuts and introduce a bill that violates our civil liberties.
    I am asking myself a serious question today. Before making fundamental changes to issues related to civil liberties, should the government not stop making cuts and ensure that the money that is already being invested in this regard has been well spent? We are talking about significant amounts of money. Today, there is a $3.1 billion hole in the Public Accounts of Canada. This money is lost or missing.
    On behalf of the taxpayers in my riding and all ridings, since we are here for them, I am calling on the government to take responsibility and start doing some real work to stand up for taxpayers and make sure that their money is well spent. The government must tell us where that $3.1 billion went and give the relevant documents to parliamentarians and the Auditor General.

  (1100)  

    I hope that they will support this motion and finally take responsibility. It is the least they can do.
    Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my hon. colleague on his speech.
    We can now safely say without a doubt that the Conservatives are just as bad as the Liberals when it comes to managing public finances. We all remember the Liberal scandals in the past. Now the Conservative scandals are adding up. The latest one involves $3.1 billion.
    What does my colleague think could have been done with that $3.1 billion in his riding? How could that money have been spent usefully, rather than just leaving it sit there? No one seems to know if it was even spent. No one knows where it went. How could the $3.1 billion have been put to good use?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for the question.
    Indeed, there are many pressing needs in the areas of infrastructure and culture, for instance. We could be here all night listing all the needs. A couple of things that come to mind are the new Champlain Bridge and Fort Chambly, which needs some serious repairs, despite the excellent job the city is doing, even with very little assistance from the federal government. That would have been money well spent.
    I am sure that all of my colleagues, regardless of their political affiliation, could list needs in their regions that could have been met with that missing $3.1 billion.
    I would like to come back to the preamble to my hon. colleague's question. He talked about how bad the Liberals and Conservatives are at managing public funds. That is what matters here today. My hon. colleagues from Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher and Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie also mentioned that earlier.
    Since the beginning of the week, we have been hearing about interference in the activities of crown corporations. The Prime Minister is fond of saying that the Conservative Party takes taxpayers' money very seriously. So, I hope his party will take this $3.1 billion very seriously.

  (1105)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, while I was listening to my hon. colleague's speech, I was thinking about some of the members on the front bench of the Conservative Party who were on the front bench of the Mike Harris government in Ontario.
    When the Harris government took power in Ontario, one of the first things it did was fill in a big hole on Eglinton Ave. that had been dug to build a subway. It cost the taxpayers millions of dollars to fill that in. Some members may remember that. Now we are spending millions to dig that hole again to build a subway.
     That is the kind of economic model the Conservative government operates under. It is no wonder the Conservatives have lost $3.1 billion. It is no wonder they have the biggest deficit in Canadian history.
    I wonder if my hon. colleague can talk a little bit about the disconnect between the idea, on the one hand, that the Conservatives are sound fiscal managers and the reality that they are incredibly, unbelievably inept at this.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.
    It is connected to what my colleague from Sherbrooke asked. Examples abound of how the Conservatives have mismanaged infrastructure and other files. We could certainly do better. I think that Canadians deserve better. The missing $3.1 billion is a glaring example of this.
    His comments and question are spot on. It is exhausting to hear the Conservatives go on about how they are sound fiscal managers and how we would spend our time taxing Canadians. The reality is that no one knows where this $3.1 billion went, and the government has completely lost track of it.
    This money was meant to be spent on public security and anti-terrorism initiatives. This government claims to be tough on crime, but when the time comes to spend the money on public safety initiatives, the government suddenly has no idea where that $3.1 billion went.
    That is unacceptable. The government went on and on about common sense, and those provincial examples apply here. The time has come for common sense. I think it would do a lot of good on the other side.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I certainly welcome the opportunity to stand in the House today and respond to the hon. member's motion. I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for North Vancouver, the Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board.
    The motion in question concerns chapter 8 of the 2013 Spring Report of the Auditor General of Canada on the reporting of public security and anti-terrorism initiative funds. I have reviewed the motion in detail and appreciate this opportunity to correct the false assumption on which it is based.
    The Auditor General and his office have had full access to all of the public security and anti-terrorism, or PSAT, reports. He has been clear, saying, “We didn't find anything that gave us cause for concern that the money, you know, was used in any way that it should not have been”.
    That is not all he said. He also confirmed in his testimony before the Standing Committee on Public Accounts that characterizations of these funds as lost are inaccurate. In fact, he clarified in his testimony that the reporting on the funds in question was purely an internal government reporting process. He verified that the shortcomings, which our government acknowledges, did not prevent parliamentarians or Canadians from scrutinizing spending through the estimates process and through the public accounts process. Those are the facts.
    It is also a fact that our government has taken decisive action to ensure the security and safety of Canadians. Canadians can be assured that government funding tagged for security initiatives was used for that purpose. Core security-oriented organizations, such as the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, or CATSA, the Canadian Border Services Agency, National Defence, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, are the types of agencies that report through PSAT.
    On July 14, 2000, I was in the Pine Lake tornado, so I have seen death and destruction among neighbours and students. Our family lived through this disaster. I had to speak to my students when I came back in September about that event. A year later, we were getting over this trauma. When the world witnessed the destruction of the twin towers by terrorists in 9/11, those images affected me on both a personal level and as a horror shared with my fellow citizens. Again, I had to discuss with my students the intolerance and the devastation in the fall of 2001.
    I understand what it is like to try to make sense out of both natural and man-made disasters. When it comes to terrorism, I take it very personally.
    In a post-9/11 environment, Canadians expect law enforcement to adopt a proactive posture in order to disrupt terrorist plots before an attack occurs. Our government has taken strong action to keep Canadians safe, including measures such as the recent combating terrorism act, targeting serious drug crime, cracking down on organized crime and preventing nuclear terrorism.
    I think all members in the House would agree with me when I say that terrorism is a heinous crime. Its objective is to strike fear into all citizens and to discourage us all from going about our lives freely and without fear. Terrorists live by a philosophy that rejects the democratic process, and their motivation is fundamentally at odds with our rule of law.
    Acts of terrorism cannot be allowed, and our government continues to act to prevent the types of tragedies we have seen in New York and in Boston.

  (1110)  

    We are balancing, though, two very distinct needs in this post-9/11 world. We will keep our country safe and we will be responsible with taxpayer dollars while doing so.
    This chapter of the Auditor General's spring report 2013 comes with important recommendations that our government agrees with and intends to implement. We acknowledge that there was some lack of clarity and some aspects of horizontal reporting, despite all expenditures of the federal budget being reported through the regular parliamentary reporting cycle.
    Despite all the factual statements made by the Auditor General, the NDP is again willing to be deceitful and is attempting to manufacture a scandal, despite formal assertions that our reports to Parliament are sound.
    Let me reiterate that the premise of the motion in question is completely false. The processes that departments follow for reporting to Parliament and Canadians on their spending and results were respected.
    The audit acknowledges that deputy heads, as departmental accounting officers, are responsible for accounting and reporting their spending through the Public Accounts of Canada. These reporting requirements are in addition to the internal reporting requirements imposed under the public security and anti-terrorism initiative.
    All government spending, every nickel and dime, is reported to Parliament and accounted for in the Public Accounts. This took place in 2001, in 2002 and so on all the way to 2009. The Auditor General said that he did not find anything that gave him cause for concern that money was used in any way that should not have been.
    On the contrary, what the Auditor General has concerns about is the clarity and the characterization of reporting between government departments over the period 2001 to 2009. The Auditor General's recommendation focused on improving that reporting process.
    Our government accepts his recommendation and is committed to improved public reporting on initiatives that involve multiple departments. In fact, our government has already taken action to improve public reporting on such horizontal initiatives.
    In the fall of 2011, the Office of the Auditor General said that the government did a good job of monitoring progress and spending for economic action plan initiatives, saying that the government was diligent in monitoring the progress of projects and their spending.
    With respect to reporting to Parliament and Canadians, the government has taken several steps to improve financial reporting and to support parliamentary scrutiny of estimates and supply.
    On April 22, a new searchable, online database was launched that for the first time ever would consolidate all information on government spending in one place. The website allows the public and parliamentarians to track government spending, showing trends and government-wide totals for specific areas like personnel spending.
    This is in addition to other significant actions that we have taken. For example, we now post financial data sets on the Treasury Board Secretariat website and the open data portal. We also now publish quarterly financial reports.
    Our government has made ongoing improvements to the form and content of reports on plans and priorities and departmental performance reports.
    Clearly, much effort has been made to improve reporting. Therefore, I ask the House to reject the hon. member's motion and to reject this diversion from what really matters: the work done every day to keep Canadians safe.

  (1115)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, this morning I had breakfast with people from food banks across Canada, the people who feed those who do not have the means to feed themselves. If these people had $3.1 billion, no one would go hungry in Canada.
    The government cannot claim that this is nothing but an administrative problem. We are talking about $3.1 billion that should have been spent on public security but instead went missing. What disappeared? The needs were estimated at $12.9 billion, so what was not done? Did the government forget to automate passport applications or requests to verify when Canadians are leaving the country? What did they cut for that $3.1 billion to go unspent? What public security measures were cut?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, those unfortunate people who have to go through food banks also expect honesty. The statements coming from the opposition are misleading and they are political mischief.
    Let us go through what the motion is about: $3.1 billion of missing funds outlined in chapter 8, that is what is mentioned. The opposition motion is based on a false premise and the members know perfectly well that in the words of the Auditor General:
    We didn’t find anything that gave us cause for concern that the money...was used in any way that it should not have been
    As the opposition knows full well also, there is no indication that any dollars are missing, misappropriated or misspent. Only time missed comes into play in the Auditor General's report. I would like to read from the press release in which the Auditor General said:
    We believe that the government missed an opportunity to use the information it collected to generate a picture of spending and results under the Public Security and Anti-Terrorism Initiative across departments...
    He went further to say:
    The government recognizes that it needs to improve the way it reports financial and non-financial information for future government-wide initiatives.
    I mention the word “future” for the member.

  (1120)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is very clear from the Auditor General's report that he cannot identify where the $3.1 billion was spent or whether it was spent, so in that case it is truly missing. However, I would like to read from the auditor general's report of late 2004, Sheila Fraser, who had this to say about the anti-terrorism initiative:
    The current management framework of the Public Security and Anti-Terrorism initiative met most of our audit criteria. The vast majority of funds allocated in the 2001 Budget have been channelled to identified priority areas. In addition, the Treasury Board Secretariat is taking care to track spending...
    At the end of 2004, it was tracking the spending so the problem came later, presumably under the Conservative government.
    Could the member indicate what went wrong once the Conservatives came to power?
    Mr. Speaker, certainly, I would love to explain what took place. In fact, in the Auditor General's report I can read through what happened in 2004. It says:
    In our 2004 audit, we examined the management framework of the Public Security and Anti-Terrorism Initiative, including funding allocations and spending. We identified weaknesses in the way the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat assessed departmental proposals for funding. We also found that the reporting process needed to be improved.
    I think that is how the present Auditor General categorized the types of things that were said. Therefore, I question perhaps how up-to-date the member is with regard to that.
    Let us talk about the situation between 2001 and 2009, and I suppose as well to go back to the motion. It says, “issue documents from 2001 to the present”. The audit was from 2001 to 2009. Therefore, either the opposition members did not read the actual audit, or they are purposely trying to create some misdirection to align the conversation with the misguided and malicious talking points.
    I would first like to thank my hon. colleague from Red Deer for the great work that he does on the public accounts committee. I would also like to thank the hon. member for Pontiac for bringing this issue forward and for the opportunity to talk about our government's strong record in cracking down on crime.
    Before I go any further, I want to clarify the Auditor General's statements on this chapter. I was at committee. He confirmed that this money was not lost and that he found no reasons to make him believe money was misspent.
    Since our first day in office in 2006, our government made a firm commitment to Canadians that would make their safety and security a key priority. Chief among our efforts includes moving forward with measures to address the threat of terrorism very seriously. Terrorism is a global phenomenon and Canada is certainly not immune. Several hundred Canadians have been killed or injured in terrorist incidents in the past several decades. We can all recall tragic events like the 1985 bombing of Air India flight 182. In the past decade, our world and the way we view it has changed since September 11, 2001, when terrorist acts took place in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania and claimed thousands of lives, including 24 Canadians.
    We also clearly recall recent attempts to blow up airliners, such as the failed underwear and shoe bombers' plots in 2009. Most recently, the Boston Marathon bombings have again reminded us that we are not immune to terrorism. The memory of the victims of terrorism and the pain of their families strengthen our resolve to fight criminals and terrorists at home and abroad and to stand up proudly for the principles that bind us: freedom, democracy, rule of law and human rights.
    Our goal is to continue to build the resilience of our society and all communities to all forms of violent coercion. Since first coming to power, our government has taken decisive action to address the evolving threat of terrorism, both within and beyond Canadian borders, through legislative changes, targeted programming, criminal investigations and other initiatives.
    As security threats are borderless, particularly threats to our cyber networks and critical infrastructure, in 2010 we launched Canada's cyber security strategy and the national strategy and action plan for critical infrastructure. Through our beyond the border action plan signed with the United States, we have strengthened aviation, marine and rail security in Canada, including our more rigorous screening for port and airport employees, enhancements to technology and improved security procedures.
    We have improved information sharing among the agencies involved in detecting terrorist financing. We have listed terrorist entities under the Criminal Code to send a strong message that Canada will not condone any kind of terrorist activity. We have passed the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act, which allows victims of terrorism to sue listed foreign states for committing an act of terrorism or for supporting listed entities under the Criminal Code. Hitting these entities in their bank accounts and pocketbooks helps prevent and deter them from carrying out further acts of terror.
    Countering terrorism and securing Canada is a shared responsibility that involves many organizations from all levels of government: law enforcement, border services and private-sector and international partners. While terrorism remains a threat, it is one that we are better able to deal with as a result of greater collaboration and partnerships.
    Given the global reach of terrorism today, addressing the threat requires universal co-operation. We stand firm with our allies against the threat of terrorism. By combining resources and aligning our focus on a common set of priorities with our international partners, we are in a better position to target the threats to our safety and security.
    These priorities are clearly laid out in Canada's counterterrorism strategy, a comprehensive strategy introduced in 2012 that outlines our efforts to prevent individuals from turning to terrorism, detect terrorists and their activities, deny terrorists the means and opportunities to attack and respond in a rapid and proportionate manner. It speaks frankly about the terrorist threats we face at home and abroad and the importance of strong partnerships and collaboration among government, security agencies, law enforcement and community groups, among others, and it underscores Canada's contribution to the global efforts to counter the terrorist threat.

  (1125)  

    We have made great progress in meeting our commitments under the three previously mentioned strategies, and we will continue to put forward a clear focus on combatting terrorism and countering violent extremism.
    At the same time, we have no plans to stop our work to strengthen our justice system and keep Canadians safe through a number of robust measures. We will continue to take action on crime, as we have done since we came to power. We have toughened sentencing and bail provisions for serious gun crimes. We have strengthened the sentencing and monitoring of dangerous, high-risk offenders. We have ensured that murderers connected to organized crime will be treated automatically as first-degree murderers, and we have imposed mandatory jail time for drive-by or reckless shootings. Our government has ended sentence discounts for multiple murders and it has passed legislation to abolish the faint hope clause, which allowed early parole for murderers. We have delivered legislation that limits credit for time served in pre-sentence custody.
    I am very proud to note that our government has passed legislation to help reform the pardon system. In particular, we have made sure that the Parole Board of Canada has the discretion it needs to determine whether or not granting a pardon would bring the administration of justice into disrepute. I am equally proud to note that our government has passed legislation to strengthen the national sex offender registry and the national DNA data bank so that all persons convicted of sex offences are registered.
    All in all, our government has taken significant action that achieves results in tackling crime in our communities and in countering terrorism. We will continue to do more. With each of these measures, we have kept one goal at the forefront: to keep Canadians and their families safe. We have done all these things, and more, while ensuring that we are using Canadian taxpayers' dollars prudently.
    Indeed, we have taken great strides to leverage partnerships across governments, with law enforcement and security agencies, and with our international partners. By combining resources, and aligning our focus on a common set of priorities with our international partners, we are in a better position to target the threats to our safety and national security.
    Law-abiding Canadians expect to live in a country where they do not have to worry when they go to bed at night. They expect, and rightfully so, to live in a country where their government is working with its allies to create a strong and robust national security system that is ready to prevent, detect and respond to any type of emergency. They want to know that their streets are safe and that their children are protected against predators.
    This is the commitment that our government has made and it is one that it has kept.
    Today's opposition motion is not concerned about the well-being of Canadians. Instead, it is focused on manufacturing a crisis where the Auditor General himself has clearly said there is none.

  (1130)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the speech by my colleague opposite from the very beginning.
    The Conservatives can say what they want, but there is no trace of $3.1 billion. That is what we are debating.
    How will the member explain to Canadians, who work very hard to make ends meet, that the government can find no trace of the $3.1 billion? I would like him to answer my question.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General said that there is no indication that any dollars are missing, misappropriated or misspent. In fact, I was in committee when the Auditor General himself said, “We didn’t find anything that gave us cause for concern that money was used in any way that it should not have been.”
    I would like to ask the member opposite why she is disagreeing with the Auditor General himself.
    Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. member over there is denying the undeniable.
    In the Auditor General's report, he said:
    However, information to explain the difference of $3.1 billion between the funding allocated to departments and agencies and the amount reported spent was not available.
    In other words, the money may have been spent appropriately. It may be in the public accounts. Perhaps it lapsed or perhaps it was spent. We do not know what it was spent on.
    How can the hon. member possibly deny that this $3.1 billion is missing, in the sense that we do not know what it was spent on, or whether it was even spent? That is very clear from the Auditor General's report.
    Mr. Speaker, I am glad that the member of the Liberal Party asked me a question, because it was exactly scandals that took place in that government that required us to bring in tough new rules when we came to power in 2006 with the Federal Accountability Act.
    I want to address his immediate question with regard to the matter at hand and this matter relates to the categorization of expenses by Treasury Board between 2001 and 2009. His government was in power part of that time. All of the funds in question are accounted for in public documents presented to Parliament, including the public accounts.
    Let me repeat. The Auditor General said there is no indication that any dollars are missing, misappropriated or misspent, and that Treasury Board Secretariat has accepted all of the Auditor General's recommendations.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague the Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board for clarifying this issue once again.
    I want to ask him about what kind of feedback he is hearing from his constituents.
    The opposition continually tries to manufacture scandals and the Canadian people are much smarter than the opposition gives them credit for. The Canadian public saw this report, heard the comments from the Auditor General, and heard that no money is missing and that the Auditor General is satisfied. He has suggested some improvements and we have taken those suggestions.
    I am not getting calls or emails in my office from Canadians. Why? Because Canadians do not buy the nonsense from the opposition.
    I am wondering if my colleague has had the same experience. Does he find that Canadian people are basically looking at the opposition and saying same old game, it is trying to make a scandal where there is no scandal?

  (1135)  

    Mr. Speaker, the number one priority of government is to keep its citizens safe, safe from terrorism and safe from threats. That is what my constituents want. My constituents expect us to have measures in place to make sure that their safety is protected.
    Since coming to government in 2006, we have taken extensive measures to make sure that public safety is one of our top priorities, and we are making real progress in that regard.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to this matter.

[English]

    The subject, of course, concerns the missing $3.1 billion. Why are we here today? Among the many troubling revelations in the Auditor General's spring report was a rotten Easter egg in the form of a $3.1 billion hole in the government's public security and anti-terrorism spending. It turns out the Treasury Board Secretariat simply cannot find the money. Notwithstanding the opposition members' statements to the contrary, it is abundantly clear from the report that they cannot locate that $3.1 billion.
    It is not surprising coming from this President of the Treasury Board. Simple details like the term “border infrastructure” can mean gazebos in his riding. Or what about $5 billion in budget cuts announced last year? We still do not know where those cuts are, which is why the former parliamentary budget officer had to take the government to court.
     What is worrying is that this audit only covered public security and anti-terrorism funding. We have no information on other government programs. We have no idea what other programs and services that middle-class families rely on are not getting the funding the government says they are.
    In the Auditor General's report, the Treasury Board provided three possible explanations for where the missing billions were: one, the money lapsed, in other words was not spent; two, it was spent on public safety and anti-terrorism, but was not properly recorded; or three, it was carried forward and spent on non-public safety and anti-terrorism programs.
    Those are mathematically what the options must be. It was not spent, it was spent on public security or it was spent on things other than public security. The government simply has no way of knowing which of those three options was the more prevalent. They all stem from the same problem: the TBS tracking process for those funds was not developed enough to keep track of everything.
    However, it was a tracking system. I was completely blown away to read in the report at paragraph 8.24 that:
    In 2010, the Treasury Board approved the Secretariat’s request to end the government-wide reporting requirements on Initiative spending. The last reports entered into the database are those related to the 2008–09 fiscal year. The Secretariat stated that it would develop a new mechanism for managing and collecting performance information on the Public Security Initiatives. At the time of the audit, a project was in the pilot stage, but a new mechanism was not yet in place.
     This is deeply concerning. It would appear the Treasury Board now has no system at all to monitor public safety and anti-terrorism spending. We have actually regressed. The Treasury Board promises to have a new system in place by March 2014, nearly a year from now and four years from when it killed the original system. Whatever the flaws of the old system, certainly it must have been better than nothing. Or perhaps it was not, but right now what it has had for three years is nothing in terms of monitoring those public expenditures on security.
    I turn now to the response we have had from the government on this matter. The President of the Treasury Board has repeatedly told this House that all the money is accounted for and can be found in the public accounts for the years 2001 to 2009. This is a laughable response. Every financial transaction is “recorded” in the public accounts to some extent. What we do not have is any details in terms of where that money is in the public accounts. We know it is in the public accounts, but we do not know where in the public accounts, so in that sense it is truly missing.
    The minister's response did not provide us with any information, nor does it do anything to calm the concerns of Canadians that the current government simply cannot keep track of its own money. That is why I have asked the Conservatives, in a written question, to detail where in the public accounts these funds can be found. I eagerly look forward to their reply.
     As I said previously, we do not know if there is a systemic problem with other categories of expenses. The Auditor General only examined public safety and anti-terrorism funding. Again, we do not know if other funding destined for services for middle-class Canadians may not also be missing.

  (1140)  

    I also want to share my concerns about the NDP's reaction to this matter. The NDP motion we are debating today demonstrates a curious lack of understanding about the role and powers of the Auditor General.
    The Liberals support publishing the information related to this audit so that Parliament and Canadians can examine it for themselves. However, the portion with respect to turning the data over to the Auditor General is interesting, as he already has that power. He certainly would have looked at all the relevant information. We do not need a motion to ask him to get the information to which he is already entitled.
    Subsection 13(1) of the Auditor General Act states:
    Except as provided by any other Act of Parliament that expressly refers to this subsection, the Auditor General is entitled to free access at all convenient times to information that relates to the fulfilment of his or her responsibilities and he or she is also entitled to require and receive from members of the federal public administration any information, reports and explanations that he or she considers necessary for that purpose.
    The law is perfectly clear on this matter. The Auditor General would not have had to contend with security matters either, as subsections 13(2) and 13(3) also grant the Auditor General access to secret materials as long as his staff take the oaths required of public servants handling such information.
    Therefore, it is fair to say that access to the required information was not a problem for the Auditor General. The problem was that the information did not exist.
    This is also a question of resources. I would contend that if that money could have been found, then the Treasury Board would have found it during its consultations with the Auditor General on this report. No government wants the Auditor General to tell the public that we have lost $3.1 billion. It is the worst-case scenario. I imagine many Treasury Board officials worked late hours trying to find the missing money. I have no doubt that if it could have been located, it would have been, and the Auditor General's office would have been shown exactly where it was. It is purely a case of self-interest. I imagine the government and the public servants worked very hard to find the missing money, and did not, because the information did not exist.
    That said, of course we are in no way opposed to giving the Auditor General more resources. If his office thinks that more resources would help answer this question, then let us provide more resources.
    The Liberals support this motion because more transparency is good. The Auditor General has raised serious concerns about the systems used to track government expenditures, and Canadians deserve to see how it is done so that they can judge the government's track record.
    Before I move on to the next portion of my remarks, I want to comment on the general tone of the NDP's response to this matter.
    Good government is about solutions. However, we do not see many solutions emanating from the NDP. I find this particularly surprising, considering how plainly obvious the solution to this problem is. Perhaps it is simply easier to point fingers and try to score political points. I was dismayed to see the member for Pontiac ignore an obvious solution proposed by the committee we are both members of. The solution is to change how the government appropriates money.
    The government operations and estimates committee held a wide-ranging and in-depth study on the process of supply. We heard from experts inside and outside the government, including former parliamentarians, the Auditor General, a former clerk of the House, other governments and the Parliamentary Budget Officer. Our committee made numerous recommendations, some of which the government has endorsed, others not so much.
    However, the most important recommendation that was made was to transition the estimates from their current vote structure to a program-based structure. Our current vote structure is archaic and cannot keep up with the size and scope of 21st century government. Its failings are well known.
    Most departments have three votes: operating, which means paying for public servants and hydro bills; capital, for acquisitions; and grants and contributions, the funds that are handed out to Canadians.
    If a department wants to transfer money inside its vote, it only needs the approval of the Treasury Board, not Parliament. It only has to tell us if it wants to switch money between the votes, such as as fire a public servant and buy a new ministerial limo.
    The best example of this problem may be the G8 legacy fund debacle. As a consequence of the confusion with our current system, parliamentarians thought that when they approved the supply bill, they were authorizing money specifically for the border infrastructure fund. That was not the case.

  (1145)  

    In fact, Parliament approved a single massive pot of money for infrastructure construction; the only condition was that the money be spent on infrastructure. That is why the Treasury Board was able to create a new program, the G8 legacy fund, and provide it with funding by taking money from the border infrastructure program. The Conservatives did not have to tell Parliament they were doing this, since the money all came from the same large pot that Parliament had approved for infrastructure. However, if Parliament had to approve spending by programs rather than in the current way, this would have been impossible, and we would also have been able to track public security spending.
    Therefore, our primary proposition is to amend the NDP motion to include a solution to the problem, and the evident solution so that this will never happen in the future is to do the estimates according to programs rather than according to the current archaic system.
    I would like to read my proposed amendment.
    I move, seconded by the member for Bourassa, that the motion be amended by adding the following: “And that, in order to avoid losing funds in the future, the House requests that the government take all actions necessary to transition to program-based appropriations according to the timeline provided to the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates.”
    It is my duty to inform hon. members that an amendment to an opposition motion may be moved only with the consent of the sponsor of the motion, or in the case that he or she is not present, consent may be given or denied by the House leader, the deputy House leader, the whip or the deputy whip of the sponsor's party.
    Since neither the sponsor nor any of these other members are present in the chamber, I cannot consider that there is consent for the amendment. Therefore, pursuant to Standing Order 85, the amendment cannot be moved at this time.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I wonder why the Liberals think they have any credibility when it comes to this matter.
    I would like to give the Liberal member a short history lesson. In her 2004 report, the Auditor General examined the management framework for the PSAT initiative, including all funding and expenditures. She identified weaknesses in the way in which Treasury Board evaluated departmental funding proposals. She also noted in 2004 that, under the Liberal government, the reporting process needed to be improved.
    Why did the Liberals not take action when they were in power in response to the 2004 Auditor General's report, in order to put in place a more solid reporting procedure and a better method of evaluating funding?
    Clearly, the Liberal government mismanaged this file, just like the Conservative government. An NDP government will be transparent and truly accountable to the Canadian people

  (1150)  

    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member might recall that I read a quote from the 2004 Auditor General's report, in which she states that, until the end of 2004, the Treasury Board tracked all public safety spending. This means that the problems began after that, when the Conservatives were in power.
    The problem I have with the NDP's proposals, as I said in my speech, is that they do not offer any solutions. The amendment I proposed offers a solution to help ensure that this kind of problem never happens again.
    The NDP does not have any solutions to suggest.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, audits, of course, are looking for the paperwork to match against the money that is spent. Certainly I can recall a recent audit in which the comment was, as in this case, “There is no evidence of wrongdoing, but we cannot find the paperwork and we cannot figure out exactly where the money was spent.”
    Would the hon. member for Markham—Unionville contrast and compare the reaction of the Conservatives when fingers were pointed at much smaller amounts of money in the Attawapiskat community with the way they are sloughing this off as though nothing has happened when $3.1 billion cannot be tracked?
    This is lousy attention to detailed paperwork and keeping track of money. The Conservatives were contemptuous when it was a small first nation community, but now they just say, “Look the other way; there is nothing here.”
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from the Green Party for that excellent comparison. I think it is telling when the Conservatives bring in a third party administrator to deal with an impoverished, small aboriginal community, maybe dealing with, I do not know, hundreds of thousands of dollars, and then they slough it off when $3.1 billion goes missing under their watch.
    I think this shows a certain tendency to take on small, poor communities with a vengeance and to simply ignore the problem of $3.1 billion going missing under their watch.
    Mr. Speaker, in trying to get a better understanding of just how much $3.1 billion is, it is fair to say that it is virtually 50% of the total budgets of some provincial governments here in Canada. We are talking about a significant amount of money.
    The government is standing in its place and saying that it is not true and that the money has not been lost. Could my colleague point out in a very simple fashion why Canadians need to be concerned about this $3.1 billion and explain what it is the Auditor General is actually saying?
    Mr. Speaker, it is true that $3.1 billion is a huge amount of money. It is so big that it is hard for many Canadians to picture an amount that size. It is perhaps half the budget of the Province of Manitoba, or something like that. That gives some idea of the magnitude.
    Our amendment would be a practical solution to this problem. We acknowledge it is a huge matter when an amount of this size goes missing. However, our proposal would ensure that such a thing would not happen in the future, whether it is a Liberal government or a Conservative government. That is the practical nature of our suggestion to bring a solution to this matter.

  (1155)  

    Mr. Speaker, we have been told by the government that the $3.1 billion is not lost, it just is not found, and that is good management on the government's part.
    I would like to go back to the issue of third party managers. The Conservatives viciously attacked the impoverished community of Attawapiskat, not saying that the money was misspent but that there were not enough receipts. There was not even an allegation that the money was misspent; it was just that they did not have all the receipts. Meanwhile, they cannot even produce the receipts for misspending $3.1 billion.
    Given the sheer magnitude of incompetence that we see over there, has my hon. colleague thought what the costs would be for us to bring in independent third-party managers for each of these departments that are misspending money, losing money, hiding money through secret contracts that they are not coming clean with?
    We need some sense of accountability over there.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his point and I have already acknowledged it. I think the Attawapiskat comparison is telling.
     I think to bring in third party managers when we are talking about funds on the scale of $3.1 billion would be enormously expensive, so our proposal, I think, is the more practical one. If we move to estimates based upon programs, then we would avert any such problems in the future.
    It would be nice if we could solve this $3.1 billion problem, but I am not sure we ever will. I think the Auditor General has done his best, and he simply says the information is not there.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, on December 4, 2002, the current Prime Minister, who was the Leader of the Opposition at the time, asked the Liberal government a question about the loss of $1 billion, which he called a boondoggle. It was clearly a scandal. The Prime Minister, who was the opposition leader at the time, shouted from the rooftops about this scandal.
    Could my colleague comment on the difference between the Conservatives' attitude during the Liberal scandal and their current attitude, now that they are the ones who have lost $3.1 billion? Why have they changed their attitude towards a scandal that is almost exactly the same? What are my colleague's thoughts on that?
    Mr. Speaker, it was not at all the same. Neither my colleague nor I was here at that time.

[English]

    However, at the end of the day, it was proven that the billion-dollar boondoggle did not exist. That is the difference.

[Translation]

    That is the difference. The Liberal scandal was not a scandal. It did not exist. As for the Conservative scandal regarding the $3.1 billion, that is real. No one knows where that money is. This is completely different.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, clearly the $3 billion we are talking about is a reporting thing. It is horizontal, and clearly it will come out in due course.
    I have a question for the member. If he and his party are so good at finding money, perhaps he can tell us where the $40 million in sponsorship money went?
    Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that the hon. member focus on today's issue, not on something from decades ago.
    He says that he thinks the $3.1 billion will be identified in due course. What does that mean? The Auditor General said the information was not available. How can he say that it will be identified in due course when the Auditor General said that the information does not exist?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I will share my time with the hon. member for Nickel Belt.
    We are talking about $3.1 billion in a $12.9 billion budget.
    Government representatives are saying that there was an emergency in 2001, that there was a real terrorist threat. It never went away. Canada could be attacked and be unable to respond. That justified allocating a budget. The government decided that Canada needed to spend $12.9 billion to protect itself.
    Now $3.1 billion is missing. Where did it go? There is no way of knowing. That is a pretty big deal.
    The Auditor General said that there is no explanation for the $3.1 billion difference between the funds allocated to the departments and agencies and the reported expenditures. In other words, nobody knows what happened to that money.
    Fortunately, we have been told that the money has not been diverted to a Swiss bank account by a corrupt public servant or minister. We have that assurance, at least. Still, it is not so bad because, given what is going on in the Senate, we could say that it has rubbed off on the ministers.
    Needs were identified. What became of them? It is like cyberthreats. No one knows what happened to the $750 million.
    The problem with the cyberthreat file is that, 10 years after the money was spent, we were blatantly told that our computer systems are not protected from a cyberattack. That is fairly serious.
    That is the real problem: there is no accountability. The government chooses to spend money or not. Funds get reassigned, but we are never told whether the critical mission was accomplished. That is the whole problem with this government.
    If this $3.1 billion was spent so Canada could be protected from an act of terrorism, that is good, because that is what should have been done. However, we do not have that information. We do not have that guarantee. We were quite simply told that $3.1 billion was missing. We demand to know what happened.
    How can we right a situation if the extent of the problem or its very nature are being kept from us? To find a solution, we need to know the exact nature of the problem. That is what we are asking. That is exactly what is at the heart of this motion: we want to know. We do not want relevant information kept from us anymore.
    The best part is that in 2010, this government decided to abolish the reporting process. The Auditor General clearly states that that is where their audit stopped. The government did not fix the problem. It got rid of the method for finding out about the problem.
    Sweeping things under the rug will not make them disappear. Sooner or later, it will start to get cluttered under there.
    In theory, it takes $3.1 billion to keep Canada safe. However, this same government introduced Bill S-7, saying that Canada needs to be protected from terrorism.
    What will we use to fight terrorism? The Conservatives have cut public safety spending by $687 million. That must make the terrorists happy. I imagine that representatives and lawyers for the mafia and organized crime are thanking their lucky stars and hoping that this government never gets voted out of power. The election of the Conservative Party is the best thing that ever happened to the mafia.
    They have slashed $143 million from the border services budget.

  (1200)  

    Right now, border posts all along Quebec's border are empty. Fraudsters and people smuggling in illegal immigrants are being asked to pick up the telephone and say they are crossing the border. Life is grand. This government is making every effort to be reckless. It says it will protect Canada and then it asks terrorists to turn themselves in. Well done.
    In Granby and Bromont, the RCMP is helping people who crossed the border illegally and claim to be political refugees. That is fine. The problem is that there are some people who do not report to the RCMP. There are some who come straight across the border. Who are those people? We do not know and there is no way we can know, because the Conservatives have cut positions: 626 full-time positions, including 325 front-line police officers and 100 positions directly related to the intelligence directorate. They have cut 19 sniffer dog units that searched for drugs and explosives. That means that they have eliminated, from airports and border crossings, our system to protect against bombs and against terrorists who blow up airplanes. In theory, that should make us safer.
    Meanwhile, the government does not know where the $3.1 billion that was supposed to be used to combat terrorism has gone. When I say that the work is not being done, I mean it is really not being done. Another very serious issue is the $195 million in cuts to the RCMP. That is the icing on the cake. It is really no longer able to do the job.
    What is more, with regard to search and rescue and aviation safety, we are being told that if a plane ever crashes somewhere as a result of an act of terrorism, if a boat is ever in difficulty or there is a highjacking at sea, the Royal Canadian Air Force does not have the planes or helicopters to intervene, to protect and save the victims of an act of terrorism or any other accident. They no longer have the means to do so.
    The $3.1 billion has gone missing. It would have been useful to look at any threats against Canada and use the money to counter those threats, yet that was not done. However, we may have an idea of where that $3.1 billion went.
    The G8 and G20 summit expenses raised many questions. Today, the same minister is under scrutiny for the disappearance of $3.1 billion. It that money buried under a gazebo in his riding? It might be worthwhile to go and dig there. We might strike it rich.
    Let us not forget that the $50 billion he spent on sidewalks, gazebos and public restrooms was supposed to have been spent on securing our borders. That money was allocated to border protection infrastructure. In order to get re-elected, the Conservatives took $50 million to assure the President of the Treasury Board's friends that they would all get small contracts, that they would all get a little treat. It does not make any sense at all.
    It was important to point out that, under the Conservative government, that money was used for purposes other than those for which it was intended. That is clearly what happened in the President of the Treasury Board's case.
    The President of the Treasury Board obviously has the makings of a future senator. This seems to be a Conservative government trademark.
    This motion calls for something to be done about the $3.1 billion. Is Canada safer from terrorism than it was, when only $9.7 billion of the $12.9 billion allocated for this purpose was spent?

  (1205)  

    The government has not answered this important question. The loss of this $3.1 billion therefore demands some accountability. That is what Canada needs.

  (1210)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, this problem is not unique to what was in the Auditor General's report, nor is it unique to the period in question. In fact, there is a more recent example in this year's budget.
     I am the critic for Veterans Affairs. Within the budget this year, there is an indication that $65 million has been allocated over the next two years for the Last Post Fund. The Last Post Fund spends about $10 million a year, so we know very well that $65 million will not be spent in the next two years. A few years from now, is there going to be another Auditor General's report that says that $40 million cannot be accounted for and that it was not spent when the government said in the budget that it was going to be spent?
    Given what is in the Auditor General's report, and this behaviour apparently continuing in this year's budget, how do we stop this from recurring in the future?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the culture of secrecy must be abandoned and accountability rules must be put in place. It is a common practice to look at a budget over a 10-year period and then, if the amount is too great for the stated objective, to reduce it. That is good management.
    Is that what happened in this case? We do not have the slightest idea. That is what we are asking. We are not asking for the moon. All we want is the earth. We are fine with it, but there is no accountability in this matter.
    We have no problem with a reassessment of expenditures. However, we need to be informed.
    Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my colleague on his speech.
    If I am not mistaken, I believe that he serves on the Standing Committee on Public Accounts. He is very well positioned to recognize the government's poor management and lack of accountability.
    I had the opportunity to talk about this a little earlier in my presentation. I would like to know my colleague's views on this. I talked about the Conservatives' dishonesty, which we see day after day, and their insults to the effect that the NDP cannot do a good job of managing the economy, and so forth. These are myths invented by the Conservative Party.
    The reality is that today—and we have heard about it all week—we see that $3.1 billion has been lost and that the Conservatives do not know how to manage the economy and protect taxpayers.
    What does my colleague think of this lack of logic?
    Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent question that opens the government up to some scathing criticism.
    The Conservatives claim that they are the best at managing the economy and they compare themselves to Greece, Spain and Italy. It would be nice if they would occasionally compare themselves to the best: Sweden, Germany and Australia. No, they compare themselves to mediocre managers and think that this makes them the best. In reality, they are simply less mediocre than other mediocre managers. What a fantastic achievement.
    Our country has 1.4 million unemployed workers, and that number is going up by 50,000 a month. We have a trade deficit of $60 billion. Households have a debt-to-income ratio of 163%, and the Conservatives still think they are the best. That is not true.
    The best example is that they have lost track of $3.1 billion, at a time when Canada's economy is struggling and Canadians are experiencing serious problems. Food bank use has more than doubled. That is not a sign that things are going well. Here is the problem: the government is hiding the truth and shamelessly lying about economic figures.
    Rather, I should say that the economic figures this government uses do not at all reflect the reality in Canada. That is a bit more parliamentary.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I am happy to speak today on our official opposition motion on the recent Auditor General's report on the missing $3.1 billion.
    I have to say that there are days as an MP on this side of the House when I do not know whether to laugh or cry. On the surface, we can shake our heads and poke fun at the government that cannot find $3.1 billion of taxpayers' money. We know what we do at home when some money goes missing. We look under the bed and in the washing machine. Maybe a few Canadians check socks. Yesterday we asked the government if it checked the banana stand.
    All kidding aside, we are not talking about some loonies or toonies or change. We are talking about $3.1 billion. This is the stuff accounting teachers use with their students as prima facie evidence of accounting gone wrong. This is where one wants to cry rather than laugh. This comes from a government that has inflicted on Canadians ad nauseam its economic action plan commercials for itself. It is more wasting of taxpayers' money.
    The Conservatives have made outrageous claims about being good managers of the economy, when the evidence, such as the missing $3.1 billion, tells the real story. This is the government that brought Canada the $50-million spending spree of the member for Parry Sound—Muskoka for the G8 summit, with gazebos and the paving of the yellow brick riding that had nothing to do with security. Is this where we should be looking for the $3.1 billion for security measures?
    We saw the financial fiasco of the F-35 jets. Are their fumes where we should be looking for the $3.1 billion?
    In the past, we have seen economic mis-managers spend money on government programs that did not exist. Coming from northern Ontario, I know the fiction of FedNor's spending claims from the President of the Treasury Board.
    Is it any wonder that when someone with the integrity and independence of Kevin Page, the former parliamentary budget officer, pointed out this incompetence, the government chose to shoot the messenger rather than conduct the business of the government in a proper fashion?
    The ridicule of the Conservative government's spending and accountability knows no bounds. Richard Cléroux writes, in his Straight Talk blog, that the President of the Treasury Board is a treasury minister who has lost his treasure. The minister claimed the money was not lost, that it was only an accounting difference between him and Michael Ferguson, the Auditor General. Mr. Cléroux suggests that the treasury board minister might not be wise speculating that the money might have been spent in Afghanistan and on border crossings. Mr. Cléroux reminded Canadians that the minister “spent $50 million on building public toilets in a farmer's field, a gazebo in a town, buying a $2 million cruise boat that wouldn't float, and the killer—paying $1 million to have somebody carve a fake, miniature lighthouse out of an old tree stump...If anybody out there comes across a $3.1 billion bundle somewhere in a government office, you'll know whose it is”. Others are calling the government's explanation a fancy fudging of facts.
    The minister acknowledges that the individual reporting by departments is not followed by whole government reporting. If we do the math, it is pretty simple. Add up the different departments and get the bottom-line figure. However, it does not add up. We are out $3.1 billion.
    Let us be clear about the importance of security and anti-terrorism initiatives. They are needed to meet the post-9/11 security environment. No one disputes that, but with all the spending cuts happening, we need to be sure we have value for our spending. We need to know where this money is going and whether we are getting the security we are paying for. We have a problem when the Auditor General tells Canadians he does not know and cannot determine how this money was spent. It is a real concern that the government shows such a lack of interest in monitoring overall spending on national security.

  (1215)  

    The government loves to blame the previous Liberal government for getting us into this mess, and there is some truth to that. However, it is the Conservative government that in 2010 let drop the commitment to strategically monitor overall spending on national security. It was the Conservative government that stopped providing annual reports on where all the money was going.
    The Auditor General found that $3.1 billion was missing between 2011 and 2009. What happened in 2010? Both the Auditor General and the Assistant Auditor General had some interesting things to say about that. The Auditor General said:
    Our audit only went up to this time period, and at the end of this time period this method of reporting was stopped.
    It seems that when the Auditor General found that the Conservatives were not counting money properly, the government's answer was to simply stop counting. That is banana-stand nonsense.
    We can do better. We must do better.
     I am the mining critic for the official opposition. We have a 20-member mining caucus that met this week to look at what a proper national mining strategy might look like, one that could support the good-paying jobs and the investment the mining industry makes in our economy, which was $35 billion in gross domestic product in 2011. A mining strategy that can pay dividends for Canada when it is done in a sustainable fashion is good management of the economy.
    My leader has made it clear that for these natural resources projects, it is not in Canada's best interest, not even for our bottom line, to take as much resources out of the ground in as short a period of time as possible to sell to whomever, usually foreign countries, with foreign companies getting most of the profit. This does not serve Canadian interests now or future generations. We in the party know something about sound economic management. It means paying attention to both the bottom line and the social good. It is not surprising, as a federal government report indicated, that, taking into account all governments and all parties, NDP governments have balanced the books more than any other party. Whether it is mining or national security, we can get it right. That is good fiscal management.
    That is not what we are talking about today with this missing $3.1 billion. Where is that money?

  (1220)  

[Translation]

    During his audit, the Auditor General asked the Treasury Board Secretariat for information to help him explain how the balance of $3.1 billion, allocated between 2001 and 2009, had been used. Although no clear explanation was given, the secretariat worked with the Office of the Auditor General to identify several possible scenarios: the money may have lapsed at the end of the fiscal year for which it was allocated; the money may have been spent on different public security and anti-terrorism activities and reported as part of ongoing program spending; or the money may have been carried over and spent on programs not related to the initiative.

[English]

    With this motion, we are calling on the Conservatives to make public, by June 17, 2013, a detailed summary of all departmental expenditures specifically related to public security and anti-terrorism initiatives between 2011 and 2009 and to give the Auditor General all the necessary resources to perform an in-depth forensic audit until the missing $3.1 billion is found and accounted for.
    Surely it is time to stop politics and actually take the issue of preventing terrorism seriously and account for the money spent on anti-terrorism initiatives. Conservatives are bringing forward initiatives and unnecessary laws that infringe upon our civil liberties without actually being able to explain whether the whopping $3.1 billion allocated for public security and anti-terrorism initiatives was actually spent, and if so, how, and on what programs.
    Ordinary Canadians need to know why $3.1 billion of their taxpayer money is missing and why the Conservatives are not doing everything in their power to find where the $3.1 billion went and what it was used for. We will leave no stone unturned to try to get to the bottom of this boondoggle. That is a real economic action plan.
    If the Conservatives have nothing to hide, why do they not make it transparent and release all necessary documents to the Auditor General to make sure the $3.1 billion is found and accounted for?

  (1225)  

    Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt that $3.1 billion is a huge amount of money. It is ultimately very difficult for many, if not most, to really get an appreciation of just how much money it is.
    One of the things we are hoping to see, if this motion were to pass, is a solution and some way to prevent this from occurring in the future.
    My question to the member is in regard to the amendment that was brought forward by my colleagues earlier, in essence stating that it is necessary for a transition to program-based appropriations, according to timelines provided by the standing committee, in order to change the way in which we do estimates.
    Does the member agree with that? Would he support what the Liberal Party is suggesting?
    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Winnipeg North asked me what we expected. We expect the government to supply all the proper information to the Auditor General.
    At the end of the day, we want to know where this $3.1 billion is. Where was it spent and how was it spent? We want to know where it is. That is all we want to know. Where is it?
    Give us the documentation. Give it to the Auditor General and he can figure out where the money is. If it was misspent, the government should pay it back.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, during the debate, we heard Conservative members say a number of times that all the information is available in the Public Accounts of Canada. Canadians are not fools and know that what the Conservatives are saying is totally false. Here is a quote from a discussion between the Auditor General and Aaron Wherry from Maclean's:
    The information reported annually in the Public Accounts was at an aggregate level and most of the PSAT spending was not separately reported as a distinct (or separate) line item. Furthermore, with over 10 years elapsing since the beginning of the PSAT program, much of that information is now archived and unavailable.
    Therefore, what the Conservatives are saying is false. Would my colleague like to comment on that?
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague does indeed have reason to believe that what the Conservatives are saying is entirely false. After hearing this discussion, we must believe what the Auditor General is telling Canadians. We must believe him and not the Conservatives, who are known as a party that hides the truth from Canadians. We should not believe them.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I direct this question to the hon. member for Nickel Belt.
    My father was an accountant and I vividly recall, because I was about eight years old, that he was the senior cashier for a large insurance company. During year-end, they could not find $1 million. He came home from work and said they could not find that $1 million. It was a matter of accounting to figure out where it went. I was a very little girl and I remember saying, "Keep looking in all the wastepaper baskets; it has got to be there somewhere".
    I find the misapprehension from Conservative members of the House today of what it means to have $3.1 billion missing to be quite like my reaction as a little girl, saying that the money is not really missing. They just cannot figure out where it is; it is not really missing money.
    I think we understand that in an audit we have to track where the money is and where it was spent. That is why we have an Auditor General, to figure out that the government is taking good care and can account for every penny spent.
    If $3.1 billion cannot be accounted for, will my friend from Nickel Belt agree with me that it means it is missing?

  (1230)  

    Mr. Speaker, I completely agree with the member: the money is missing. All the Conservatives have to do is give the Auditor General the proper documentation so he can find where the money is. If he cannot find where the money is, then it is up to the Conservatives to tell us where they spent that money; $3.1 billion is a lot of coins to be missing.
    Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Sault Ste. Marie.
    I am pleased to have this opportunity to add to this debate. It gives me an opportunity to talk about our government's strong commitment to protecting the personal safety of our citizens and defending them against threats to our nation. It also gives me a chance to assure Canadians that government spending tagged for security initiatives continues to be used for this purpose. This includes initiatives such as the public security and anti-terrorism, or PSAT, initiative.
    As we know, the Auditor General of Canada recently released a chapter of the spring report on the reporting of PSAT funding. Contrary to what some have said and would lead members to believe, the Auditor General did not find that PSAT funds are missing or were misappropriated or misspent. The Auditor General did express some concerns about the clarity and categorization of the reporting between departments between 2001 and 2009. He also made some recommendations to improve the process. I am pleased to say that the Treasury Board Secretariat has accepted these recommendations and is committed to following them.
     One of the developments under the PSAT initiative was the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, or CATSA. I am pleased to take this opportunity to highlight the work done by our government to strengthen the security of the transportation system in Canada. Our safety measures affect all means of transport. However, it is aviation security that I will speak about today.
    The tragic events of September 11, 2001, marked a turning point for aviation security, not only in Canada but also globally. In the decade since, many countries have taken significant action to improve the safety and security of their aviation industries and the travelling public. This is certainly the case in Canada, where the government works with international partners and industry to enhance aviation security. Thanks to the significant improvements we have made to the network of Canada's aviation security since September 11, 2001, our transportation system is now one of the safest and most secure in the world.
    While time does not permit a comprehensive list of aviation security accomplishments, I will briefly highlight a few: implementing the restricted area identity card in Canadian airports to strengthen airport access control, the first dual-function biometric card, iris and fingerprint; and working with industry to ensure that all air cargo is screened to the highest standards using the most effective technology at a point in the supply chain that makes the most sense to shippers. All this work has contributed to making Canada's civil aviation security program one of the strongest in the world, and we are proud of that.
    We know terrorists are constantly adjusting their tactics and trying to exploit what they perceive to be soft spots in our defences, so we must ensure our aviation security system continues to evolve to meet these challenging threats. In part, we do this through effective risk management. One lesson we have learned during this last decade is that, in enforcing prescriptive regulations, the one-size-fits-all approach does not always mean getting the best outcomes. Instead, we recognize that our partners, including airlines, airports and CATSA, the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, are committed to security and capable of managing risk. Where possible, we believe we should allow industry to pursue innovative ways to meet their obligations while accounting for their local realities.
    Fundamentally, this means focusing our efforts on areas of aviation security systems where they have the greatest benefits. Our approach to securing air cargo is a good example of our putting these principles into practice. As we know, cargo is handled at multiple stages from the point at which it is packaged until it is boarded on a plane. This includes shippers, agents, freight forwarders and air carriers. It would be not only inefficient but near impossible to impose one-size-fits-all security rules to each stage of the package's journey from factory to aircraft.

  (1235)  

    That is why we decided to adopt the security supply chain. This model allows for security checks where industry has determined that it is more economical to do so in the supply chain, while ensuring the cargo remains in control while passengers board the aircraft. This approach is balanced. It maximizes safety and it minimizes cost while maintaining the efficiency of the entire network for travellers and goods.
    In addition to managing risks, our government recognizes that having a safe and secure aviation system depends on the strength of the partnerships that support it. First, this means partnerships at home. While the Government of Canada may develop policies, set regulations, oversee those regulations and set technology standards, our industry partners are the ones who must implement them. They may do this by either complying with the regulations or developing the technology that meets our standards.
    These are the people who are on the front lines of aviation security, including our industry partners. Our international partnerships are equally important to our shared security. We know terrorists do not respect boundaries. We have also seen how attacks launched from halfway around the world can affect us all.
    Co-operation on our shared air border with the United States remains a priority, given the fundamental role it plays in our bilateral economic relationship. We want to make sure this strong relationship continues long into the future. We are confronted with ever-evolving threats. The ability to provide the practical technical solutions to these threats is integral to maintaining aviation specifically and more generally, for all Canadians.
    The steps we have taken to ensure the security of Canada's transportation network are good examples of our government's strong commitment to protecting the personal safety of citizens. Indeed, the first job of any government is to keep citizens safe from harm. I believe our government's record speaks for itself. We continue to fund measures to enhance the security of all Canadians.
    The Auditor General has provided useful recommendations to improve the reporting around this important initiative. I am pleased to say that we are doing exactly that. For example, we have made significant improvements to reporting the financial and non-financial information on future government-wide initiatives such as PSAT.
    To conclude, I cannot support the motion, as I believe it is clear the Auditor General has reviewed all available documents and has reached the conclusion that he did not find anything that would lead him to believe money was used in any way that it should not have been.
    Mr. Speaker, in fact, what the Auditor General said was that it is important that there be a way for people to understand how this money was spent, and that summary reporting was not done. In other words, nobody knows where the money is. If money cannot be accounted for, then it is missing.
    What we want to know is where the money is and what the money was spent on. The member across the way can go on and on and drone on and on, and many of the members on the government side have done that all day. They talk about how the opposition is trying to manufacture a scandal. No, we are not trying to manufacture a scandal; Conservatives are doing a fine job on their own manufacturing scandals. Instead of all the torqued rhetoric, why do they not just come clean and tell us where the money is and what it has been spent on?
    Mr. Speaker, essentially the hon. members are manufacturing misinformation. There is no money missing. It is clear that these are summary reports. We have adopted the recommendations by the Auditor General, and that information will be coming forth in due course. There is no money missing. The only money missing is the $40 million from the Liberal scandal years ago.

  (1240)  

    Mr. Speaker, the member really needs to get a little bit more focused in terms of today's reality, which is quite different from what he just finished stating in his answer and his speech on this issue.
    I will put it very simply to the member. There is a question about $3.1 billion. We are talking about tax dollars, ultimately. Canadians have a right to know where that money is spent. All we know is that there is $3.1 billion that is not accounted for. So if we ask the government where it spent that money, the government's response would be, “We don't know, but trust us; it hasn't been lost”. Canadians do not trust Conservatives. They do not trust the government.
    Can the member provide us today with any tangible, concrete display of where that $3.1 billion is?
    Mr. Speaker, my hon. friend should be more focused on what the Auditor General said. He did not say that there was any money missing. The Auditor General wants us to come up with a summary reporting, as per his recommendations. We have agreed with the recommendations and that will be forthcoming.
    I repeat that the only money missing is the $40 million his party lost several years ago.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, once again, the scandal is that it is coming from the Conservatives.
    The government lost track of $3.1 billion. The Auditor General himself says that he does not know where or how the money was spent. However, the NDP would like to know where the money went. We are not talking peanuts, here, but $3.1 billion. That is a lot of money.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, there is nothing scandalous here. The only thing that is scandalous is the opposition trying to make the public perceive that there is money missing. There is no money missing, as I continue to repeat. It is summary accounting.
    If the hon. members do not know what summary accounting is, it is a horizontal accounting system. This goes back to 2001. It involves the Liberals when they were in power. We have to reconstruct a summary accounting system to show the Auditor General where all this money is. That is simply the case.
    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to respond to the concerns expressed by the hon. member opposite about the funding for Canada's public safety and anti-terrorism, PSAT, initiative.
    The Auditor General has been very clear on this issue. When he released his report on April 30, he indicated that he “didn’t find anything that gave us cause for concern that the money was used in any way that it should not have been”.
    He had access to all available documentation on this issue and found there were some reporting deficiencies. The Auditor General recommended that our government improve our reporting practices.
    I am a CGA. I sat on a finance committee with city council for years and have had financial reports presented to me. Certainly, from time to time, reporting mechanisms and reporting procedures differ. Ultimately we will find that this is simply a reporting practice and the money will materialize. It is in the public accounts.
    We agreed with that recommendation and the government is already improving the way it reports on whole of government projects.
    We recognize that Canadians are concerned about how their government invests in their safety. The first job of any government is to keep its citizens safe from harm.
    Since the tragic incidents of September 11, 2001, the Government of Canada has taken important steps to increase and strengthen security in the air, on the ground and at sea.
     One of the things we did, and it is something many Canadians have experienced first hand, was to create CATSA, the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority.
    CATSA plays a critical role protecting travellers at Canadian airports by screening passengers and their belongings before they get on the plane, screening checked bags to look for explosives and other objects that would pose a threat and screening people who enter restricted areas at airports. The government has also been working on improving the infrastructure for air travellers.
    On planes, that means we have reinforced cockpit doors to prevent unlawful intrusions. We have also introduced highly sophisticated detection equipment to screen travellers and their luggage. We have redesigned the sections of flight attendant training that deal with air security.
    In airports, we have increased the number of screening officers. We have also enhanced requirements for airport security plans and have introduced the restricted area identity card for Canadian airports. The card strengthens airport access control. It is the first dual-function biometric card, using both iris and fingerprint identification.
    However, air travel is only one part of it. We are also working to improve security for ground travel.
    Our Conservative government has been working since May 2007 with major rail, transit and intercity bus operators from across Canada and their primary associations, including the Canadian Urban Transit Association and the Railway Association of Canada. We have developed a series of voluntary security standards and security guidance documents with these associations.
    We also changed some of the laws to better respond to threats. For instance, the International Bridges and Tunnels Act came into force in April 2007. The act provides the government with the legislative authority to ensure effective oversight, including safety and security of the existing 24 international vehicle bridges and tunnels and 9 international railway bridges and tunnels, as well as any new international bridges or tunnels built in the future.
    Thanks to this legislation, the Minister of Transport has the authority to issue an emergency directive in response to a potential threat to the safety or security of any international bridge or tunnel.
    Under amendments made to the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act in 2009, the federal government has the authority to ensure effective oversight, including security, over the transportation of dangerous goods on our roads and rail lines.
    In November 2007, the Minister of Transport and the Railway Association of Canada signed a memorandum of understanding that reflected the core principles of a good security regime, including regular updates to risk assessments and security plans, drills and exercises, training and awareness and incident reporting.
    Beyond land and air, the marine security program protects Canada and Canadians by safeguarding the integrity, efficiency and security of Canada's marine transportation system against unlawful interference, terrorist attacks or use as a means to attack our allies.

  (1245)  

    Marine security program personnel conduct inspections, review and approve security plans and work with stakeholders to assist them in meeting the requirements of the Marine Transportation Security Act and its regulations.
    Established in 2004, coastal Marine Security Operation Centres, MSOCs, have the authority and capacity to support a national response to perceived and real marine security threats to our country. MSOCs are located in Halifax, Dartmouth, Victoria and Niagara.
    We rely on the skills and knowledge of federal government departments and agencies responsible for marine security, asset support or maritime expertise to ensure that MSOCs are effectively protecting our marine borders. These centres have the authority and capacity to use all the civilian and military resources necessary to detect, assess and support a coordinated response to a marine security threat or incident.
    In addition to these investments in air, ground and marine transportation security, the government continues to work closely with international partners and allies, sharing information of interest such as threat assessments, best practices and mitigation strategies to help develop harmonized and compatible security systems. This information is shared bilaterally as well as with international forums such as the International Civil Aviation Organization.
    In addition, the aviation and marine transportation security clearance programs reduce the risk of security threats by preventing interference with the aviation and marine transportation system through background checks on employees who perform certain duties or who have access to certain restricted areas of airports and ports.
    These comprehensive background checks better protect Canada's transportation infrastructure, employees and passengers against insider threats and reduce the risk of having individuals linked to organized crime working at airports and ports. The government also conducts and participates in government and industry-led exercises on air, marine and surface security to ensure the government and industry are ready to react in emergency situations.
    These are wise investments protecting Canada from threats, investments that began under the PSAT initiative.
    Before I conclude, I cannot support this motion. The Auditor General reviewed all available documentation during his audit and concluded, “We didn’t find anything that gave us cause for concern that the money was used in any way that it should not have been”.

  (1250)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for his speech, even if I do not agree with his analysis or conclusion.
    I would like to share a story that will strike a chord with any parent. Last winter, I asked my son where his other mitten was. Children are always losing their mittens in winter. He said that he did not know. I asked if he had lost it again. He told me that he did not lose it, but that he just did not know where it was.
    The Conservative government has that exact same attitude. It says it did not lose $3 billion, but that it just does not know where the money is. It is somewhere. It may have been spent. If that is the case, it was not misspent, but the government cannot say how it was spent or if it is in a reserve fund. The Auditor General is telling us that there is a lack of information.
    The government advocates transparency, but it does not follow through. There is constant secrecy and denial. It hides information. Many departments and agencies have a failing grade when it comes to access to information.
    The entire Conservative government deserves an F. It needs to tell us where that $3 billion is. That money belongs to Canadians.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, one of the challenges I have with this motion is that it asks for a forensic audit. A forensic audit is an examination of an organization's or individual's economic affairs, resulting in a report designed especially for use in a court of law. It is ridiculous that the opposition would bring forward a motion that speaks to having to do something in a court of law.
     Forensic accountants may be involved in recovering proceeds of crime and in relation to confiscation proceedings concerning actual or assumed proceeds of crime.
    The NDP is talking about crime. However, no crime has occurred. The Auditor General has been very clear in terms of what he stated. Specific to reporting, one of his quotes is that the departments are responsible for accounting and reporting their spending through the Public Accounts of Canada. He says, “The spending within the departments would have undergone normal control procedures in those departments; so there are internal controls in departments about spending and they would go through all of those normal processes. We didn't identify anything that would cause us to say that we felt that anything was going on outside of those processes”.
    To ask for a forensic audit is unbelievable.
    Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to my colleague's speech and I think I heard him say that the money would appear, that somehow it is going to materialize. That is interesting. We will wait to see how that all works out. However, I would like to ask him a question about money that we know exactly how it was spent, and that is money that relates to government advertising. I would like him and his colleagues to listen for a second and then explain how he can justify this when looking into the eyes of his constituents.
    The government has erected 9,000 billboards at a cost of $29 million. It is running economic action plans now on an annual basis at about $100 million a year. It spent $23 million doing media monitoring for 60% of the backbench MPs in the Conservative caucus. It is spending $90,000 per advertisement on each and every ad during the hockey playoff series. That alone would pay for 40 to 50 additional summer student jobs. Can the member and other members of the Conservative caucus, who I am sure are ashamed of this, explain to Canadians how this is possibly defensible given the situation we are in now economically?

  (1255)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am really not sure what that question has to do with this. I am surprised you are not bringing it to the member's attention, because that is not at all what we are talking about today.
    I can state that we, as a government, have spent significantly less on advertising than the former Liberal government and we will continue to do so.
    Mr. Speaker, as always it is a great honour to rise in this House and represent the people of Timmins—James Bay. I will be sharing my time with the member for Welland.
    We are here today to make the simple request that the government admit that it lost track of $3.1 billion and work with us by bringing forward the documents so we can find out what happened to the money. We have heard a number of fascinating euphemisms, such as the money is not lost, it just has not been found, and that the money is horizontal. Perhaps that means it is under someone's bed. We heard that it will materialize. Is the government just expecting it to appear at some given time? What that speaks to is the sheer level of defiant incompetence within the government.
    I remember when the Conservatives replaced the Liberal Party in 2006 and made a promise to Canadians. At that time, Canadians were frustrated by the years of arrogance coming from the Liberal Party and the numerous scandals. The Conservative government at the time made a promise that it would come in and clean up Ottawa. It was a simple promise that it would bring a standard of ethics back to Ottawa.
    That is not what has happened. What we have seen is a level of defiant immaturity on the most basic issues of public policy. It is like the government created this carnival circus of spite and mediocrity and has attacked all of the existing standards of transparent accountability essential to ensuring democratic foundations.
    At the centre of a lot of these scandals, we see the present Treasury Board president who bragged about destroying Canada's long form census. At the committee hearings he said that if one person in the country objected, that would be enough to destroy this system that was a gold standard around the world for gathering information. Then the government came out with Bill C-30, which shows that it is more than willing to intrude on the privacy of Canadians. In fact, it thought it was perfectly fine to spy on Canadians. Again we see that its decision on the long form census shows a level of managerial incompetence that is staggering.
    As well, the member took $50 million of border infrastructure money and blew it on the most outrageous and needless projects, such as building gazebos, investing money in a sunken boat, and putting a lighthouse in a forest in northern Ontario, while telling senior citizens living in poverty that he was sorry but the cupboard was bare and these are tough times. However, the member took money that was meant for border infrastructure security and blew it in his riding. We now find out there is $2.1 billion of secret contracts being shovelled out the back door, again happening under the Treasury Board watch. The government is not even meeting the basic guidelines. It is taking money without any sense of accountability.
    Now $3.1 billion has gone missing and the Conservatives are saying not to worry because it was spent well, but cannot tell us where it was spent. That is not a standard for accountability.
    Canadians watching the government wonder what is happening in this nation. People do not expect government to do everything. They expect the government to play a role at times when people need it, such as with respect to pensions, infrastructure and health care. The role of government is to maintain a good standard of public policy that is accountable, transparent and can meet international norms.
     Canadians expect government to unify and bring people across this great country together. However, what we have seen in this carnival circus of spite and mediocrity is that sneering has replaced leadership and that the 140-character attack has replaced debate. We are seeing this sense of political mendacity being moved throughout every level of the government, including its committees and backbenches. I have not even mentioned the fact that it is spending millions of Canadian taxpayer dollars to keep tabs on its own backbenchers. The level of suspicion and wastefulness is staggering.
    We also see attacks by the Conservatives on science and international institutions. Canada once had a reputation as a country that was the model of openness and decency. Under the current government, Canada is now becoming a stranger to the world, a place where the government responds with suspicion and distrust, and representatives of the United Nations are being ridiculed.

  (1300)  

    We see the Conservative backbench ridiculing members of the United Nations who are dealing with the fact that in the far North, in the riding of the Minister of Health, for example, people cannot afford food.
     The government attacks. It attacks international institutions. It has shut down Rights and Democracy. It has shut down the Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. It has attacked, relentlessly, the role of the Parliamentary Budget Officer, whose primary job is to provide documents to Parliament.
    The Conservatives have turned this House of Commons into a place where the role of the MP to hold the government to account has been shut down through efforts to shut down debate time and time again. What we are left with is this culture of arrogance where the Conservatives believe they are entitled to their entitlement. They believe that their friends, like Mike Duffy and Patrick Brazeau, can get away with things because they are Conservatives.
    It is a level of arrogance that even outstrips something the Liberals had, and I think that is staggering. It is an insult to the Canadian people who were promised that the Conservatives would do government differently.
    Now $3.1 billion is missing. That is incompetence. It is incompetent management when the President of the Treasury Board says that he does not know where the money is but that it is okay, and that we should trust them. That is not what should be done in accountable government. In any western nation that would be considered an abomination. The Conservatives have taken the Berlusconi model and just made it meaner. It is not an acceptable standard.
    We are asking the Conservatives what happened to the money, and they cannot explain it but they tell us all the good stuff they are doing. Meanwhile, they continue with their cuts. They continue wasting money on their ads. They continue wasting money spying on their own members.
     They continue wasting money going after civil rights activists, like Cindy Blackstock, spying on her, going to court to fight basic things that most Canadians would consider issues of decency and fairness. Those are words that do not belong in this government's lexicon. It makes me think of Andrew O'Hagan's recent article on Maggie Thatcher, where he said that her legacy was to make England a seedier and greedier place. The kind of attitude that we are seeing from the government, where it has taken the level of partisanship to the level of almost psychosis, is dividing Canadians to change the channel on the fact of basic incompetent mismanagement.
    I would suggest that if we were to go into any Tim Hortons in any place in this country, and we asked people if it was okay that the government cannot find $3.1 billion and whether they trusted the government, I do not think we would find a single Canadian who would answer, “Yes.”
    The contempt that the Conservatives have for Canadian taxpayers' dollars, with their friends like Mike Duffy and Patrick Brazeau and with their attitude of their secret contracts, refusing to say whether it is tendered, refusing to come forward and produce documents showing how money is spent, is an example of why the government has lost touch with the Canadian people.
    What we are asking for in the motion is fairly straightforward. We want to know where the documents are. Is it a case like that of the President of the Treasury Board, who took $50 million from the border infrastructure and funnelled it through his constituency office, burying the paperwork, and got away with it? He buried the paperwork. He hid the paperwork. He said, “Sorry, there is no paperwork.” That was not true. There was paperwork. He did it on homemade forms.
    Were the Conservatives filling out homemade forms? They can blame the former Liberals for being part of it, but they should have changed the system. If there was a problem when the Liberals were doing it, they could have changed it but they did not.
    Now we see this level of mendacity and this level of incompetence being shown to the Canadian people in a level of arrogance that shows they do not believe they are accountable or need to explain what happened to $3.1 billion. It is simply not acceptable.

  (1305)  

    Mr. Speaker, my challenge here is that, in the normal process, what would happen with the Auditor General's report, in all likelihood, because apparently it contains a little controversy according to the opposition, is it would go to the public accounts committee.
    Undoubtedly when the resolution fails, which it will, this is going to go to the public accounts committee. So my question to the member is, does he not think that the public accounts committee is capable of doing its job, bringing forward witnesses and reviewing this report? Considering the public accounts committee is chaired by a member of the opposition, I would think it would be able to.
    That is my question. Does the hon. member not agree that the proposed resolution is redundant because there is a committee in place that will undoubtedly look at this report, and report back to Parliament?
    Mr. Speaker, the real question here is not whether I believe that the committee is able to do its job but whether I believe the government is doing its job. Clearly, it has not been, and clearly, the Auditor General supports the position of the New Democratic Party.
    The government is saying it is just a little bit of controversy that it lost $3.1 billion dollars. The Auditor General said:
...it’s important for there to be...a way for people to understand how this money was spent and that summary reporting was not done.
    Where is the money? It is a simple question. If the government has nothing to hide, it should be willing to bring forward the documents and exonerate itself.
    What is it trying to do is play procedural games to escape from the basic fact that it cannot account for $3.1 billion through its own incompetence and it is hiding whatever documents there are that would show where the money was spent.
    Mr. Speaker, I have a document here in my hands. It is clearly indicated on the document that it comes from the Government of Canada, which is the government over there.
    The document speaks about political party years and the surplus number of budgets. It is about accountability. I would like to quote these numbers. It says the NDP had a surplus 48% of the time; that is 65 surplus budgets. The Conservatives had a surplus 41% of the time; that is 101 deficit budgets. The Liberals had a surplus a dismal 27% of the time; that is 80 deficit budgets.
    These numbers are so important that I would like you, Mr. Speaker, to ask unanimous consent for me to table these numbers.
    Does the member for Nickel Belt have unanimous consent to table this document?
    Some hon. members: Yes.
    Some hon. members: No.
    The Speaker: There is no unanimous consent.
    Mr. Speaker, that is what we are up against. They will say or do anything to keep Canadians from knowing what the real numbers are.
    Mr. Speaker, in 2008 the world economy was in the worst tailspin since the depression and the major financial houses in the United States were melting down. Back then, the current Prime Minister said it was a good time to pick up some deals. That showed how out of touch the government was. It said there would be no spending to stimulate the economy and that the government was fine.
    At this point, the government had already blown through the surplus. It was already going into deficit. It said that if Canadians let the NDP get into power, there might be a $30 billion deficit, but within three months it had racked up a $50 billion deficit. The Conservatives had no plan for dealing with the economic crisis at the time. They thought it was a good opportunity to go and pick up some good easy gifts.
    It shows a level of incompetence and a lack of managerial skills in the government that when they lose $3.1 billion, they tell us not to worry: the money is horizontal.
    What kind of answer is that to the Canadian taxpayer?

  (1310)  

    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Timmins—James Bay for sharing his time with me.
    The member's last comment was that the Conservative Party said it was horizontal. The last time I checked, if somebody is horizontal, that person is actually asleep; however, if someone loses $3.1 billion, that person must not be asleep but comatose, because if the person was just asleep and woke up and rolled over, the money might be found under the mattress. In this particular case the government cannot find the money at all; it does not know where it is.
    The government says it just lost track of it; it is not really lost. The Conservatives need to find themselves a good bloodhound. Maybe they could find the track and find where they lost it, because they have clearly misplaced it.
    When we talk about that type of money and the size of the Government of Canada, we have to ask ourselves if it is a rounding error. Because the government spends billions of dollars, it might be a rounding error, but that is not the case here. Here we have slightly less than $13 billion, of which the government lost $3.1 billion. The government has simply lost track of it. If we do the quick math, that is about 24%. If a business lost track of 24% of its product, it would go bankrupt, yet the Conservative government says it is okay; the money just went places.
    The Conservatives relied on the Auditor General's report. The Auditor General went through a list of possibilities with government departments and said, “The funding may have lapsed without being spent. It may have been spent on PSAT activities and reported as part of ongoing programs. It may have been carried forward and spent on programs not related to PSAT.”
    The interesting part about those three statements is that there are two common words in every one of those statements, and those words are “may have”. The government does not know, and the Auditor General did not know either. He had no idea. This was purely a “perhaps”.
    Let me posit another “perhaps”. Perhaps the government did spend it somewhere else and does not want to tell us. The Conservatives cannot tell us that they did not, even though they continue to say that nothing was misspent because the Auditor General said so. No, the Auditor General said they might have done something; the Auditor General did not say they definitely did something.
    The problem is that it is open. We do not know what they did with it because they cannot find it. If they could find it, they could tell us what they did with it, but they cannot find it, so they cannot tell us. How do we know that they did not misspend it?
    When I asked the President of the Treasury Board the other day about it, he did not know either. He could not tell me where he put it. He does not know. He says he believes the money is in the public accounts. Oddly enough, the Auditor General disagrees. He says the money is not there. The President of the Treasury Board needs to go back and take a look.
    My good friend from Pontiac has moved this motion to do just that. Let us find out where that $3.1 billion actually went.
    The Conservatives said they would account for every penny. That being the case, I would look to my young colleagues, the pages, to do the numbers for me. If we take $3.1 billion and multiply it by 100 pennies, how many pennies have the Conservatives lost? We are now talking about a number that would probably be best presented with a digit behind the 10, since we would probably have to do it to the fifteenth power or whatever.
    I may not be a mathematician, but I am a Scotsman by birth and I count every penny and I tend not to lose them. Perhaps that is why we need to become government in 2015: so we can count the pennies. We will not lose them, unlike the Conservative government, which has taken $3.1 billion and literally lost it.
    A number of things are happening with this issue. What is PSAT? Canadians deserve to know. Is it some sort of department that does not really matter to people a lot and is not that important? Is it one of those things that just happens and does not affect Canadians in general?
    Let us see what PSAT is.
    According to the Auditor General, the PSAT department has five initiatives, and he outlined them in his report.
    The first initiative is keeping terrorists out of Canada while keeping Canadians safe. I would say that has an effect on Canadians.

  (1315)  

    After September 11, 2001, we knew what we needed to do and we allocated money to do it. It was the previous government that started it.
    The second item is “deterring, preventing, detecting, prosecuting and/or removing terrorists”.
    The third is “facilitating Canada-U.S. relations”. Canada and the U.S. share one of the biggest unguarded borders in the world. We have an obligation to our partner and friend across the 49th parallel. For me, where I live, it is across the Niagara River. I know that where you are, Mr. Speaker, it is across the Detroit River. We are very close. We can literally see our friends across the way.
    The fourth item is “facilitating international initiatives”. The fifth is “protecting our infrastructure and improving emergency planning”.
    Funding of $13 billion was provided to protect Canadians against terrorists, to ensure terrorists were not in our country, to deport them if we needed to, to protect vital infrastructure, and to show our intentions to our common friend across the way, with whom we have been at peace for over 100 years, one would think that we would be saying to them that we spent every last nickel and penny to make sure it happened.
     However, what do we have? We have is a Conservative government that says that it kind of wanted to do that, but kind of lost track of $3.1 billion. To our friends across the way to the south, the Conservatives say they are not sure if they did, while to Canadians they say they are not sure if they did all the safe things that they were going to do because they did not spend the money—perhaps. They may have, but the problem is that now they cannot tell us.
    To me, not being able to track the money is on a par with the possibility that things may have been left undone in protecting Canadians against terrorists because the Conservatives do not know what they did with the money. That is a critically important piece. That is an answer the government has not been able to give, because the Conservatives do not know if they did or did not spend the money. Which parts of that security that should have been done did they perhaps not do? I qualify it very specifically with the word “perhaps” when I say that “perhaps” it was left undone and Canadians were less secure than they might have been if the Conservatives had spent the money in the first place.
    That is a question the government members cannot answer because they cannot answer to where that $3.1 billion is. The Treasury Board Secretariat has not been able to do that.
    When I was reading through chapter 8 of the Auditor General's report, I found it fascinating that the department was given $2.75 million, a relatively small amount, to build a reporting system so it could track the $13 billion. The amount of $2.75 million is a relatively small number, but it is a big number for Canadians. For the average Canadian, $2.75 million is a lot of money. The department had almost $3 million to figure out what it did with the $13 billion; it spent the $3 million, and then it lost $3 billion. There is an example of government incompetence for us.
    If the Conservatives are spending money to devise a system to track a system that is spending money and then they lose the money, in a math class they get an F, an unadulterated F for failure, pure and simple. It is not even an issue of not doing the right thing, of not doing the things against terrorists that they said they would do, because they do not know if they did them.
    It is also about their saying they could count, and they cannot. Then they want to tell us it is there, that we should not worry, that they will find it, maybe, because they might have put it somewhere.
    Let me just say this. If they cannot find it for us now, in 2015 we will look for it, we will find it and we will tell Canadians what the Conservatives did or did not do with it. Then we will actually ensure Canadians are safe. We will spend the appropriate amount of money that needs to be spent to ensure Canadians are not under threat by terrorists, to ensure they are safe and to ensure that infrastructure is looked after, unlike our friends across the way, who lost track of $3.1 billion and think it is okay.
    I say to my friends across the way that it is not okay. You failed Canadians miserably when you lost the money. You lost track of it. You do not know where it went and you cannot defend it. It is a lot of money. Unfortunately, you have lost track of it. You need to come clean and tell Canadians where it went.

  (1320)  

    The member's time has expired. I would ask him and all other members to direct their comments and questions through the Chair, not to other members.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Edmonton Centre.
    Mr. Speaker, one of my jobs is as Canadian co-chair of the Canada-U.S. Permanent Joint Board on Defence.
     Let me say what is not okay, and that is to insinuate that somehow the Americans have no confidence in what we are doing with respect to collective perimeter security. Collective perimeter security of North America is something the NDP has consistently opposed because of some of the members'—but probably not the member for Welland, because he lives close—knee-jerk anti-Americanism when it comes to collective security.
    I can say that the Americans have every confidence in the co-operation they are getting from their allies across the border in Canada, and we have every confidence in them. To suggest that because of some accounting things that went on in 2001 we are somehow shirking our duties with respect to the collective protection of Canadians and Americans is simply false.
    Mr. Speaker, I know that my colleague is passionate about security, and I respect his duty and service to this country as a former member of the armed forces. I have said it before and I will continue to say it every time he asks me a question, because I admire his service.
    Unfortunately, I disagree with him. The problem is that the government cannot tell us if it actually expended the money the way it intended to. It cannot. Did it leave bits out of the security piece it intended to do? It does not know, and neither do Canadians, and that is why I say neither do our friends across the way.
    He is absolutely right that I live within a stone's throw of the border. The Americans are great friends of ours. They have been coming back and forth across the border for hundreds of years and continue to. We have many friends in the U.S. Those of us who live in border areas respect and love our friends across the border. We truly do.
    I respect the fact that my colleague says that we need to be careful about it. I agree with him that we need to be careful about it. That is why the government has to tell us where the money is. What did it do with it? How did you spend it? If you spent it appropriately, then we can say that.
    Again I would ask the member to direct his comments through the Chair and not to individual members.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Hamilton Centre.
    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is a veteran member of the public accounts committee and happens to be the senior lead for the official opposition. He was in attendance on May 2 when the public accounts committee held its public hearing with the Auditor General on this report. During the course of that meeting, one of the members asked the Auditor General this question: “Is there a risk that some of the $3.1 billion may not have necessarily been spent on what Parliament had approved it for?”
    The answer by Mr. Ferguson was this: “I guess I would have to say that there would be a risk because there is not enough information to answer the question completely”.
    Is the hon. member as concerned about this risk as we found out we should have been with respect to the border security infrastructure money, which happened to find its way to building gazebos in northern Ontario? Is that concern shared by the hon. member?
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Hamilton Centre is absolutely correct. He quoted the Auditor General quite clearly and succinctly. I share the Auditor General's concern about risk. As much as he said “may” have in the three scenarios that he and the department said could have happened, they clearly could have added another “may have”, which is that there is a potential risk that it was not spent the way the possibilities were laid out. There is no definitive answer. No one knows. The government will not provide an answer, because it seemingly does not know. Otherwise, I am sure the government would provide a list of things it spent it on.
     It has been unable to do that, which clearly indicates that they do not know and that the Auditor General, Mr. Ferguson, was correct in his assessment when he said that there is, indeed, a risk that the money went to another place. That is potentially why the government does not want to provide the information. Perhaps it went to pay for a gazebo and perhaps not in northern Ontario. Perhaps in some other place in this country there is a new gazebo being erected as we speak that would be quite lavish. Clearly, for $3.1 billion, one can build a lot of gazebos.

  (1325)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure for me to rise in the House to talk about the hon. member's motion. I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Portage—Lisgar.
    The motion before us relates to the reporting of the public security and anti-terrorism initiative funds, as examined by the Auditor General in chapter 8 in the spring 2013 report.
    Let us turn our attention instead to what really matters: the work done every day to keep Canadians safe and secure while encouraging economic growth, development and job creation. In fact, let us take a very recent example. In the immediate aftermath of the Boston bombings, officials with the Canada Border Services Agency and U.S. Customs and Border Protection were in contact to coordinate efforts to protect public safety on both sides of the border. This example speaks to the strength of our relationship with the United States overall.
    Our American friends and neighbours know that they can count on us to be a stalwart partner in protecting safety and security for both of our countries. We are more than trading partners; we are friends and neighbours. When our nations are under attack, we stand together defending our shared values of freedom, democracy and the rule of law.
    Providing the level of security we need in today's complex threats environment is a significant undertaking. Doing so without encumbering the biggest and most important bilateral trade relationship in the world makes the challenge even greater. With our government's efforts here in Canada, and in collaboration with our partners in the United States, it is clear that we are making substantial progress toward our goals. We continue to move forward with the implementation of the beyond the border action plan and in developing and implementing new measures to strengthen our mutual security while fostering the economic relationship between Canada and the United States.
    We are moving forward with our commitment to the integrated cargo security strategy. We are continuing to harmonize standards and test new approaches to further ease congestion at the border. Last October, we launched a pilot project for marine cargo arriving at the port of Prince Rupert in B.C. Cargo cleared for entry into Canada is simultaneously cleared for entry into the United States. Cleared once: accepted twice. We expect to launch a second pilot for incoming cargo at the Port of Montreal in the upcoming months.
    In March 2013, Secretary Napolitano and the Minister of Public Safety signed a memorandum of understanding clearing the way for a pilot project in which U.S. Customs and Border Protection will conduct cargo pre-inspection of U.S.-bound trucks in Canada. In addition, the pre-load air cargo targeting pilot has been under way since last fall. An expanded version of the free and secure trade program is being tested at the Blue Water Bridge at the crossing in Sarnia. If the pilot is successful, we could see this implemented on a permanent basis at all three ports where the free and secure trade program is now in place.
    We are also installing new wait-time technology at key ports to enable more effective logistics planning. In British Columbia, NEXUS lanes opened in Douglas and Abbotsford last November. We opened an additional lane to better manage peak-period traffic at the Surrey/Blaine crossing in February. In Ontario, a third NEXUS lane was opened at both the Peace Bridge and Fort Erie crossings.
    We continue to promote membership in NEXUS, and we now have over 800,000 members. NEXUS itself was created as part of the public security and anti-terrorism initiative. Expanding our trusted trader and trusted traveller programs, reducing paperwork and expanding pre-clearance programs are all integral to making the border more efficient and supporting economic growth in both of our countries.

  (1330)  

    Increasingly, we see businesses on both sides of the border building products together and working to produce and assemble parts and components. We are also addressing these threats to our joint security and economic well-being.
    In March, our government introduced new legislation to address the growing problem of counterfeit goods. This legislation gives new authority to police and customs officials to seize and destroy shipments of counterfeit and pirated products. It will also establish new criminal provisions for copyright and trademark infringements. It will help ensure that businesses in Canada and the United States enjoy similar protection from counterfeiters. This is a global problem, and we continue to work with our partners in the United States and with our allies around the world to identify and respond to these kinds of threats.
    As close as we are, Canada and the United States are independent countries, with their own sovereign interests, which we will continue to pursue in our own ways. There are, however, areas in which our sovereign interests coincide, such as preserving and growing our economic relationship and protecting the peace and security we enjoy. We cannot do these things effectively if we act unilaterally. The connections are too many and too complex, so we are compelled to work together.
    The beyond the border action plan is a commitment to do just that on these key items. We are developing and implementing innovative measures that enhance our joint security while ensuring that the legitimate flow of goods, services and people across our shared border is as efficient as possible. We are making real progress toward those goals, and with the continued support of organizations such as the Canadian/American Border Trade Alliance, we will continue to get the results we want and need.
    Much good work is being done to ensure the well-being of Canadians. The programs conducted under the auspices of the public security and anti-terrorism initiative represented the beginning of a new focus on the safety and security of our fellow citizens. In fact, the audit conducted by the Auditor General found that the overwhelming majority of spending reported by departments was evaluated and was consistent with the objectives of the public security and anti-terrorism initiative.
    Where the Auditor General had concerns, they were about the clarity and categorization of reporting between government departments over the period of not just one year, but from 2001 to 2009. The Auditor General has provided recommendations to help improve the reporting process. We on this side agree with those recommendations. The Treasury Board Secretariat agrees with those recommendations.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech, which was very enlightening. So far, the Conservatives have avoided talking about the missing $3.1 billion. It is all well and good to list all of the anti-terrorism measures that have been implemented—these are important and I do not deny that, because we all agree that public safety is important—but today, we are talking about transparency, as the Auditor General pointed out.
    My colleague quoted selectively from the report. I would like to share another part of the Auditor General's report. With respect to the Public Accounts, he said:
    The information reported annually in the Public Accounts was at an aggregate level and most of the PSAT spending was not separately reported as a distinct (or separate) line item. Furthermore, with over 10 years elapsing since the beginning of the PSAT program, much of that information is now archived and unavailable.
    It is not simply a matter of checking the Public Accounts. The government must work with all parliamentarians and with the Auditor General. I wonder what my colleague thinks about that.

  (1335)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments made by my colleague. He has filled in on a couple of committees, and I always have an appreciation for his questioning and ability to understand things.
    That is why I want to speak about the whole issue around the public security and anti-terrorism initiative fund. That is what this discussion is and should be focused around.
    Quite honestly, what I am hearing from the other side I find a little disrespectful. We have members on the other side who are taking on the challenge of what the Auditor General is saying.
    The Auditor General is saying that he did not find anything to give him cause for concern that any money was used in any way that it should not have been.
    One can twist the words and come up with one's own initiatives. However, quite honestly, I think the reason those initiatives come up is that the NDP does not have a platform on which to run in a budget. It has not supported one of the initiatives in any of our budgets since I have been elected and since that party formed the official opposition.
    I understand the anxiety the members must have over there, as they need to search and swing things to try to get something to come to fruition. However, that is not the way it is, not by the Auditor General's report.
    Mr. Speaker, I think it is important that the Conservatives recognize that citizens have an expectation of government. Government collects a phenomenal amount of tax dollars every day, and citizens have this expectation that the government knows what it is doing with those tax dollars.
    In this particular case, we have $3.1 billion, which is an astronomical amount of money. If I were to pose a question to any minister of the government as to what the government is doing with the taxpayers' dollars it is spending, one would like to think I could get a tangible answer. However, that is not the case with regard to this $3.1 billion.
    My question to the member is specific. If one of his constituents were to raise the issue of the $3.1 billion that is unaccounted for in terms of where or if that money has been spent, how would he answer that constituent?
    Mr. Speaker, clearly I will not have to repeat what the AG said in that there was absolutely, in any way, no money used where it should not have been. That is pretty clear.
    However, I will turn to the member who belongs to a party that scammed $40 million from Canadians and ask him if he could help provide us with that information. We have not withheld anything.
    Clearly, the Auditor General also said that:
...the Secretariat collected detailed performance information on public security investments, but there was no obligation to provide a government-wide perspective on the Initiative. In our opinion, this resulted in a lost opportunity as the ability to generate a government-wide perspective....
    That is the categorization, which is why we accept the Auditor General's report.
    Mr. Speaker, I really do appreciate the opportunity to stand today to speak to this opposition motion, especially being in the House over the last few hours and hearing its members stand and, time after time, deliberately mislead the Canadian public and deliberately twist the words of the Auditor General, a highly respected man and office in this country. It is very disturbing. It is troubling. As my own colleague just said, I think it is clear that the opposition is in a panic mode because it has no ideas for the Canadian public. It certainly has no ideas that would benefit Canadians economically and so, instead, the members are actually attacking, indirectly and directly, the very integrity of the Auditor General by twisting his words. I am very pleased that I can stand today to speak against the motion.
    As we know, the opposition is calling into question the government's accounting for the money used to fight terrorism both at home and abroad. The fund it is referring to is funding for Canada's public security and anti-terrorism initiative, also known as PSAT. This is a very important initiative, something we have taken seriously, which was proven again last week when we debated Bill S-7, a bill that gives law enforcement the ability to stop terrorism, intercept terrorism and stop individuals from leaving the country to engage in terrorist activity, which is a real threat to Canadians.
    That party voted against it, and again today it is using its opposition day, instead of doing something constructive for the country, to twist and mishandle the words of the Auditor General. Shame on it.
    We have indicated that all the funds in question have been accounted for in the public accounts, and those are available to Parliament. That is what the Auditor General said, as well.
    What is more, there is no indication that any money is missing or that any money has been poorly used or wasted. These are not our words but the Auditor General's. Shame on the opposition for misusing and twisting the Auditor General's words.
    Thank goodness. Do members know what I am so grateful for today? The Canadian public is smart. Canadians are intelligent. They know a distortion when they see it. They are not buying that. I think it has even been indicated by all of our offices that we are getting support from our constituents. Thank goodness the Canadian public is smart and does not buy this kind of nonsense.
    As I said, these are the conclusions of the Auditor General. He gave the government a clean bill of health in the accounting for these expenses. In fact, he just confirmed, at committee, that the anti-terrorism funding he was reviewing was purely an internal government reporting process.
    My hon. colleague from across the way mocked the term “horizontal”, so let me read the words. I guess he is laughing at the Auditor General because the Auditor General said, in his testimony to the committee:
    What we were looking for—Again—
    And these are his words:
—this was a very large initiative. This was a horizontal initiative.
    Again, those are not our words. That is not our description. That is the description of the Auditor General.
    We understand that the priority of Canadians and our priorities are aligned together. We understand that there is no more fundamental duty than to protect the personal safety of our citizens and defend against threats to our national security. That is why we did things like introduce and pass Bill S-7 to greater protect Canadians. Again, the opposition voted against it.
    This objective to protect Canadians with regard to spending on anti-terrorism measures has been successful. We work with other countries to prevent terrorist acts, to monitor developments in unstable nations and to take appropriate actions to deny and respond to the threats faced by peace-loving people.
    Over the past few years, we have witnessed many severe changes in several countries in North Africa, Asia and the Middle East, changes that had an impact upon the stability of many of these countries. We are seeing that terrorism remains a problem in countries like Afghanistan, Algeria and Iraq. We take this very seriously.
    Indeed, part of our efforts to combat terrorism includes strengthening our laws to deter terrorist-related activity within our borders and to support Canadians who fall victim to these acts.
    That is why, just to reiterate, we passed the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act. This legislation allows victims of terrorism to sue listed foreign states for committing an act of terrorism or for supporting listed entities under the Criminal Code. That is also why we list terrorist entities under the Criminal Code: to send a strong message that Canada will not condone terrorist activity.

  (1340)  

    That is why it is so disappointing to see the NDP vote against the great bill we just passed last week to combat terrorism. Again, the NDP members are too busy trying to spread mistruths and mislead the Canadian public, which is really shameful on their part.
    While terrorist threats may seem to take place far away from Canadian shores, we know we cannot be complacent in the belief that we are immune here at home. We know terrorism is a threat and remains a threat, even here in Canada.
    We must be ready to counter threats like these through investments in public security and anti-terrorism measures and other actions. As members know, one of the greatest threats facing democratic nations today is the threat posed by homegrown violent extremists, individuals who seek to harm others in pursuit of overtly political, religious or ideological objectives.
    There is real concern that new and evolving conflicts in the world might lure youth to engage in violent extremist activities at home and abroad. Canada, like all nations, has a responsibility to guard against its citizens travelling to areas of turmoil and participating in terrorist acts. That is why our government sought passage of the Combating Terrorism Act, the bill I just referred to, which makes it a criminal offence to leave Canada for the purposes of participating in or facilitating terrorist activity.
    We must actively work to prevent individuals from being recruited overseas to learn a terrorist trade and possibly return to Canada or elsewhere to commit further acts of violence. We passed this bill. Again, it is beyond belief and beyond reason that the opposition did not support this initiative. Again, seeing what they are doing today, I guess it is clear that the opposition members are so out of touch with Canadians and what Canadians believe to be important that they spend their time on this kind of nonsense.
    To move forward on both combatting terrorism and countering violent extremism, we also launched Canada's counter-terrorism strategy. The strategy is composed of four elements, to prevent, detect, deny and respond to terrorist threats. It sets out a clear approach for Canada to address terrorism with a focus on building community resilience.
     We appreciate so much the input from communities across this country that want to see this kind of resilience built into the fabric of their communities. They want to see their young people growing up in Canada, being strong and successful, having families and jobs and not being radicalized by extreme groups. We appreciate so much their help in the work we are doing here in Canada.
    A resilient society challenges and rejects the ideas and values associated with violent extremism, and works together to mitigate the impact of terrorist attacks. The success of our strategy relies on collaboration with Canada's international partners, security intelligence and law enforcement agencies, as well as all levels of government, industry stakeholders, civil society and, as I mentioned, communities throughout Canada.
    International co-operation on counter-terrorism initiatives is a key component of Canada's counter-terrorism strategy. Since 2005, the counter-terrorism capacity-building program has provided training, funding, equipment and technical and legal assistance to other states. We can see how many great initiatives are going forward in this strategy.
    We want to make them capable of preventing and responding to terrorist activities in accordance with international counter-terrorism standards and obligations. We also promote international co-operation in forums such as the G8 Roma-Lyon Group, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forums and of course the Global Counterterrorism Forum, just to name a few.
    Here in Canada, much of our work focuses on research, community outreach, training and awareness, as well as engagement with key stakeholders.
    As members can see, we are working hard to protect Canadians. We believe that is the job of a responsible government, which is what we are. The opposition members, on the other hand, are trying to manufacture a scandal, a crisis that just does not exist. I would encourage them to respect the words and the office of the Auditor General and get back to the priorities of Canadians, if they can.

  (1345)  

    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member across the aisle spoke of spreading mistruths and misleading the public. She tried to attribute that to others in the House besides the government and the Conservative Party.
    This is Orwellian doublespeak of the highest order. Everybody in this country knows that the government and the Conservative Party have mastered, as a high art, exactly what she accuses others of.
    She also misquotes and quotes out of context the following from the Auditor General. He said:
    We didn't find anything to give us cause for concern that the money...was used in any way that it should not have been. However...it's important for there to be...a way for people to understand how this money was spent and that summary reporting was not done.
    The Auditor General has three scenarios about what happened to the money: one, the funding may have lapsed; two, it may have been spent on PSAT activities and reported as part of ongoing programs; but three, it may have been carried forward and spent on programs not related to the initiative.
    Why would the government not want Canadians to know how $3.1 billion was spent?

  (1350)  

    Mr. Speaker, I really appreciate the member reading that quote from the Auditor General.
    Any Canadian listening, other than one with an NDP mindset, would understand that what the Auditor General said was the money was accounted for. It was horizontal money and there were better ways to report it. We agree with the Auditor General and we agree with the quote that there are better ways to report it. That is exactly the recommendation we will take.
    It is very troubling that the opposition would purposefully mislead Canadians when it knows what it is asserting is completely false.
    I would like to read what the Auditor General said again. He said, “We didn’t find anything that gave us cause for concern that money was used in any way that it should not have been”.
    Here is another quote. This one is from committee when he was asked directly if he could confirm there was no money lost or missing. He said, “It means that we didn't see anything in what we were looking at that put any red flags in front of us that said we would need to do a lot more work on this”.
    The Auditor General has said the case is closed.
    Mr. Speaker, the member finished saying that there might be a better way of doing it.
    One of the things we have done in the Liberal Party is make a suggestion. We would like to see the government get behind that suggestion. In fact, the former parliamentary budget officer also supports what we have advocated.
    There is a need for us to change the way in which we report the estimates. We need to move toward program-based appropriations. This would prevent things of this nature from happening in the future.
    Would the member commit that this is, in fact, what the Government of Canada is prepared to do? It is not only the Liberal Party saying it, even the former parliamentary budget officer, Kevin Page, is saying it as well.
    Mr. Speaker, we have seen the Auditor General's report and we appreciate it. We have taken those recommendations and we will follow through because we believe the Auditor General is there to give advice. That is why I would encourage the opposition to support and to respect the office.
    While I am on my feet, I have a question for the member from the Liberal Party. The Gomery Commission asked where the $40 million were, $40 million which were clearly missing. We have never heard that answered.
    Could one of the Liberal members stand and answer where the $40 million are, which the Auditor General and the Gomery Commission clearly said had gone missing? It has never been paid back.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I wish to inform you that I will be sharing my time.
    I would like to begin by explaining to taxpayers why I have a black eye. We were playing soccer yesterday, and although our wonderful pages are kind enough to bring us water here in the House, on the soccer field, things are quite different. Seriously, though, we had a lot of fun.
    I would also ask the House to go easy on me today, because I am a little shaken up. I just learned today that a childhood friend of mine committed suicide. His name was Jean-Maxime Leroux. Mourning his loss are his two children, his family and friends. He will be sadly missed.
    Now I would like to move on to the motion currently before the House. It has to do with the $3.1 billion that the government seems to have lost. According to the government, however, that money was not lost; it simply does not know where it is.
    That is a huge amount. In fact, $3.1 billion would be enough to build the new Champlain Bridge in my riding. What is really unfortunate is the partisan rhetoric that the government continues to spew. I do not like using such strong words in the House, because it affects how people perceive us. However, everyone sees how partisan this is. When the government loses track of $3.1 billion, questions need to be asked.
    The government often quotes the Auditor General, but it does so selectively. What the Auditor General said was that they did not find anything to suggest that the money was used inappropriately and that it is important for Canadians to understand how that money was spent, because the government did not report it properly. Again, this $3.1 billion was for anti-terrorism efforts.
    The government does not know if the money was misspent. It does not know if this is the sponsorship scandal all over again. It does not know if the money was misused the way the President of the Treasury Board misused money on gazebos. Nobody knows where this money went and therein lies the problem.
    The Conservatives are saying that it is in the public accounts, but even the Auditor General cannot figure out what this money was spent on. When we asked the government to point to where and when exactly this money was spent, it could not. Unfortunately, the answer we got was that it has no idea.
    The purpose of the motion is to call on the government to be more transparent and to hand over the documents. Why are we asking for the documents? We want to ensure that the money was spent wisely.
    The government says that it gave all the documents to the Auditor General, but this is the same government that was found in contempt of Parliament, which was a first in the history of Canada. The Conservative government was found in contempt of Parliament for failing to do what Parliament asked it to do, which was to provide documents on the F-35s.
    Despite the fact that the government's handling of the F-35 file was a real fiasco, he has the audacity to say that the NDP is incapable of running the government. I would like to remind the government that, according to the provinces, all political parties and the federal department's research, the NDP is the party that has the smallest deficit and that is the best manager of public money. The government should take lessons from the NDP. Instead of making empty promises and boasting about being the best manager, it should look in the mirror. It might see that it has a black eye like the one I am sporting this morning.
    It really has set a bad example. It has spent $113 million in pointless advertising. Furthermore, Canadians are tired of seeing the ads. We have to wonder: Is this money well spent? The government does not know what has happened to the $3.1 billion. That money could have been used for other things.

  (1355)  

    We agree that fighting terrorism is important. However, we take exception to how the government fights terrorism, and particularly Bill S-7, which we oppose. This bill goes too far in that it attacks the rights and fundamental freedoms of Canadians by undermining the charter. Unfortunately, the Liberals supported it.
    The events of September 11 were very serious. Nevertheless, we should have learned that Canada is safe. In order to ensure our safety, we have to better manage money earmarked for the protection of Canadians. Instead, the Conservatives are cutting funding for border services that keep us safe. That is difficult to understand.
    In closing, we must remember that this government is a poor manager of public funds.
    The member will have four minutes to finish his speech when debate resumes after question period.

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[Statements by Members]

[Translation]

Search and Rescue and the Percé Wharf

    Mr. Speaker, once again yesterday, the Quebec National Assembly called on the federal government to reverse its decision to close the Quebec City marine rescue sub-centre.
    In addition, the mayors of 35 municipalities along the St. Lawrence River are also asking Ottawa to reconsider, because the closure would compromise marine safety. Today we learned that the government may have finally decided to abandon its dangerous plan. I am asking the government to confirm now that the Quebec City marine rescue sub-centre will stay open.
    The federal government must also take action on the Percé wharf. In light of Ottawa's failure to understand the importance of the Percé wharf, just when tourist season is starting, the National Assembly and the RCM of Rocher-Percé are demanding that the federal government take the action needed to restore the wharf and that the government reopen it as soon as possible.
    The government must heed this unanimous call by the Quebec National Assembly.

  (1400)  

[English]

Brooks Bandits

    Mr. Speaker, it is an honour today to stand in this place and express my excitement that the Brooks Bandits have advanced at the RBC Cup National Junior A Championship for the first time in franchise history. The Bandits earned the right to represent the west at the national championship after defeating the Yorkton Terriers of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League 1-0 at the Crescent Point Energy Western Canada Cup.
    I would like to congratulate player Mark Logan for having won the Player of the Game Award. I would also like to congratulate the head coach, Ryan Papaioannou, as well as assistant coach, Brent Gunnlaugson, for their continued support and leadership.
     The Bandits are no stranger to success, as the team was ranked the number one in the Central Junior Hockey League for 21 consecutive weeks, dating back to October 2012.
    Five teams will compete in the 2013 RBC Cup, including the Brooks Bandits. It will be held in Summerside, P.E.I., from May 11 to 19.
     I would like to congratulate the Brooks Bandits and I wish them all the best. Go, Bandits, go.

Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies

    Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies annually celebrates Elizabeth Fry on this week. Based in communities across Canada, including Edmonton and Ottawa, they work to improve public awareness of the circumstances of victimized and criminalized women in the criminal justice system.
     Their goal is to break down negative stereotypes that exist about women who are imprisoned and institutionalized. Their members regularly testify before parliamentary committees, supporting more humane justice measures.
    Why is Elizabeth Fry Week held the week preceding Mother's Day? Tragically, the majority of women who are imprisoned are mothers, most the sole supporters of their family. Far too many are aboriginal. When mothers are sentenced to prison, their children are sentenced to separation and the tragedy multiplies.
    Elizabeth Fry Societies challenge Canadians to reach out and bring women into our communities so they can take responsibility and account for their actions. Their expressed hope is that a more proactive focus will enable more community-based alternatives to costly incarceration.
    Please join me in expressing our gratitude and support to these Canadians who dedicate decades to pursuing a path for a more humane and constructive judicial process.

Doncrest Public School

    Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to welcome to Parliament Hill today the grade eight students and teachers from Doncrest Public School.
     Doncrest is a remarkable centre for learning in my riding of Richmond Hill. What truly sets it apart is the dedication of its staff and administration. In addition to its focus on the important academic skills, the school has developed a tremendous eco, arts and global citizenship focus. Students graduating from Doncrest Public School do so as well-rounded young adults, positioned for success in their secondary school careers and beyond.
    This week's visit to Ottawa is providing these students with exposure to an immense wealth of knowledge about our country's parliamentary process and history.
     I commend the Doncrest Public School community for giving these young people, Canada's future leaders, such an enriching experience at this important stage of their lives.

National Nurses Week

    Mr. Speaker, as one whose mother was a nurse for many years, I am pleased to rise on the occasion of National Nurses Week.
     First celebrated in 1985, it highlights the contribution of nurses to the health and well-being of Canadians. The International Council of Nurses designated May 12, which was Florence Nightingale's birthday, International Nurses Day.
    Registered nurses, nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists champion principles of health, equity and social justice in Canada. They provide vital care to individuals, communities and populations in multiple settings across Canada by advancing principles of primary health care. Nurses are innovators, caregivers and educators who demonstrate leadership for transformative change in the Canadian health care system. Nurses play important roles in all levels of health care, from bedside to community and public health advocacy.
     During Nurses Week, let us acknowledge and thank them for their dynamic contribution in improving the health of Canadians.

  (1405)  

Violence Against Women

    Mr. Speaker, twenty thousand Canadians from all walks of life gathered here today in front of the Parliament Buildings. They are asking Canadian leaders to end discrimination against women and girls occurring through global gendercide.
    Female gendercide is the systematic killing of women and girls just because they are girls.
    The UN says that over 200 million girls are missing in the world right now because of female gendercide. The Canadian Medical Association revealed that this barbaric form of discrimination is occurring in Canada. The statement “It's a girl” should not be a death sentence.
    Gendercide is the ultimate form of discrimination against women and girls.
    A huge thanks goes to the thousands across Canada standing up against all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls.
    I also want to thank Lucky Gill with Global Girl Power.

TIFF Kids International Film Festival

    Mr. Speaker, Iron Man 3 gets the box office bucks but the students of Bowmore Public School are attracting the critical acclaim.
    Nine of the twenty-six Ontario finalists for the TIFF Kids International Film Festival are from Bowmore. Congratulations to: Umer, Delaney, Sean and Maija, Lora, Varina, Safa, Samantha, Mahfuza and Katie, Emma to Jack, Jack and Jason, Julia and Laura, Kayleigh and Allegra, Leanna and Siena, Emily, Willow and Estelle and Amy. I hope they continue to use their talents and refine their craft because if they do, Hollywood had better watch out because a Canadian wave of cinematic talent is coming to wash over it.
    For Ms. Jarvis, Ms. Partridge, Mr. Davis, Mr. Sekdorian and Principal Sambrook, as the son of two teachers, I know how hard they work, how much love they share and how much they give of themselves so all of their students find their voices and are encouraged and empowered to share with us their perspective on this world.
    My thanks to all.

National Prescription Drug Drop-Off Day

    Mr. Speaker, today I had the honour to join our Minister of Health and Canadian police chiefs to proclaim National Prescription Drug Drop-Off Day to be held for the first time formally this Saturday, May 11.
    Prescription drugs are designed to help, not to harm. However, despite these good intentions, the sad reality is that too many Canadians suffer from the misuse of prescription drugs.
    The creation of National Drug Drop-Off Day does not cost taxpayers money, but instead takes advantage of an array of committed people who can work together to resolve a growing problem.
    I thank the Minister of Health and the Minister of Public Safety for their support, bringing to life an idea that was endorsed by constituents of mine over a year ago in West Vancouver.
    Today's announcement is about people working together, including a government that listens and mobilizes its citizens. It is about doctors and pharmacists who help their patients use prescription drugs wisely. It is about educators and parents who work together for the safety of our youth. It is about householders working with police chiefs for safe communities.
    I encourage all Canadians on May 11 to go into their medicine cabinets and take their unused drugs to the local pharmacy. As our Minister of Health said today, “Everyone must do our part”.

Organ Donation

    Mr. Speaker, over the past month I have had the opportunity to partner with the Amar Karma Organ Donation Society and founder Loveen Gill on a special campaign to highlight the need for organ donors across our country.
    The Amar Karma Organ Donation Society is Canada's first South Asian non-profit organization that has pledged to provide education on organ donation and encourage Canadians to become organ donors.
    More than 1500 people are on the transplant wait list in Ontario alone, and the need far exceeds the number of registered donors.
    A single donor can save up to 8 lives and enhance up to 75 others.
    I would like to thank all of the Amar Karma volunteers who worked tirelessly to encourage Canadians to become involved in this extraordinary cause.
    The success of this campaign has showed us all that together we can make a difference.

House Commons Soccer Game

    I have to admit, Mr. Speaker, last night's level of violence by the youth of our country, meaning the pages of the House of Commons, to damage the nose of the member for Brossard—La Prairie and take out our best player of the soccer game was unbelievable. Our other better player had to take him to the hospital. We were down two people. It was unbelievable.
    I do want to give credit to super page Sarah Brown, MVP for the pages and to the hon. member for Welland, MVP for members of Parliament.
    Although we are now 11 and 5 for members of Parliament to the pages, the reality is that the pages did win the game because I, the member from Sackville—Eastern Shore, screwed up on the last penalty kick, and I humbly regret that.
    Humble MPs wish to bow to the mighty pages this year and congratulate them on a fantastic victory.
    On behalf of the House of Commons, I would like to thank them for their service, and God bless.

  (1410)  

Pakistan

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to express our government's concern regarding the recent violence and targeted attacks in Pakistan in advance of this weekend's general election. Our sympathy goes out to the victims and their families.
    The deliberate targeting of candidates by terrorist groups in Pakistan is an attack on the democratic rights of all candidates, democratic institutions and governance. Canada commends the commitment to democracy of the more than 4,600 candidates standing for office federally, the 11,000 standing provincially and the 86 million Pakistani citizens registered to vote. We express our unequivocal support for free, credible and transparent elections in Pakistan.
    The 2013 general elections are an historic moment for that country where political authority is being passed from one elected government to another. We believe it is essential for Pakistan's continued democratic development that women and men in all parts of Pakistan feel safe to commit their energy to the democratic process by standing for election and voting without fear.

Workplace Safety

    Mr. Speaker, 21 years ago today Canadians bore witness to one of our worst disasters in workplace history when an explosion ripped through the Westray coal mine in Plymouth, Nova Scotia. Like all workplace accidents, this tragedy could have been avoided. Instead, due to poor government oversight and corporate neglect, 26 men who went to work that day did not return home. Since that terrible day, many thousands more Canadians have lost their lives when they were simply trying to earn a living.
    The recent events in Bangladesh serve as a poignant reminder of what is at stake.
    In Canada we still lose an average of three workers every day.
    Each and every member of the House has accepted the responsibility to do better. We cannot just lower our heads and remember those who have been lost. We must rise to the challenge and protect those who are still here.

Experimental Lakes Area

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and update Canadians on the status of the Experimental Lakes Area situated in the great Kenora riding.
    Our government has signed a memorandum of understanding with the International Institute for Sustainable Development to take over as operator of the facilities.
    This agreement is the result of many months of confidential negotiations led by the federal government and is a major milestone in the transition of the facility to a third-party operator. It also includes provisions to support scientific research at the facility through the summer during this transition to an operator.
    Our government has been clear. We want to see the facility continue under a new operator and we are working hard to deliver on that commitment. IISD is well-suited to operate the Experimental Lakes Area with excellent capacity, expertise and international reputation to take on this important work. We understand that IISD will continue discussions with the province, the landowner, on an agreement to operate the site going forward and we hope these discussions are successful.
    I want to thank the constituents of the great Kenora riding for their input and patience throughout this process.

Emma van Nostrand

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize the passing of a young Cape Breton role model, Emma van Nostrand, who died suddenly while taking part in the Toronto Marathon.
    An extremely focused and determined young woman, Emma put forth a passionate effort in whatever she took on. Whether it was her studies, her running or her family, she was always looking to the future. Being an honour student, she went to France where she studied this past semester before returning to Riverview High School, where she was to graduate with her classmates.
    Riverview High School, with Principal Joe Chisholm, staff and students have a great spirit, but now that spirit is in mourning.
    One can never begin to understand the tragedy of losing someone so young. It is hoped they can find some comfort in the positive impact she has made on many in her short life.
    I ask the House to join me in extending our condolences to her mother Katherine, father Steven, sisters Katy, Alyssa, brother Daniel and to all her family and friends.

  (1415)  

Veterans

    Mr. Speaker, it took three days for the leader of the New Democratic Party to remove socialism from his party's constitution and one day to kick the member for Thunder Bay—Superior North from his party for standing up for his constituents.
    Veterans have been waiting 28 days for the leader of the NDP, who has not yet retracted his henchman's hurtful comments about Canadian World War I veterans. Instead of a retraction, he sent his Quebec MP to slam veterans by questioning the need to remember their sacrifice in the first place.
    We are at 28 days. How much more do veterans, like myself, have to take?

Conservative Party of Canada

    Mr. Speaker, we can see proof again of Conservatives' love for control of everything and everyone with the revelation today that the government has spent $2.5 million keeping tabs on whom? Their members of Parliament. To quote the member for Barrie, “I am not sure why I would be followed or tracked”. One would think that law-abiding citizens like my friend from Barrie should not have to worry about being spied on by his own government. Losing track of billions of dollars, millions of dollars in contracts being handed out in secret and a Senate that continues to rip off Canadians blind; no wonder Conservatives want to control the debate.
    The Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development tried to justify shutting down debate in Canada's Parliament for a record-breaking 33 times last night by saying “this motion does not shut down debate. It controls the debate”. Thankfully, tonight the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development will face four hours of cross-examination by Canada's New Democrats. He cannot control this debate, he cannot shut down this truth and finally in 2015 Canada will get the government it deserves.

New Democratic Party of Canada

    Mr. Speaker, during a time of global economic uncertainty, Canadians have placed their trust in our Conservative government to keep taxes low, balance the budget and create jobs, growth and long-term economic prosperity. It is clear the last thing Canadians need is increased taxes and spending. Unfortunately, this is exactly what the leader of the NDP proposes to do.
    The NDP platform clearly demonstrates that the leader of the NDP wants to impose a $20 billion carbon tax. This massive new NDP tax plan would increase the price of everything, including gas, groceries and electricity, while disproportionately targeting the poor, seniors and rural Canadians. It is shameful. If this massive new carbon tax were not enough, the NDP also proposes to bring in an additional $56 billion in wasteful new spending. The last thing Canadians need are the failed socialist policies of the past.
     It is time for the leader of the NDP to come clean with Canadians about his $20-billion carbon tax and his $56 billion of proposed wasteful spending. He can do it right now.

ORAL QUESTIONS

[Oral Questions]

[Translation]

Government Expenditures

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister may have been confused by this question yesterday, so let us try this again.
     If he has nothing to hide, will he support the NDP motion calling for the release of all documents related to the missing $3.1 billion?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, of course, that is not what the Auditor General said at all and that is obviously why we reject the motion. In fact, the Auditor General has made certain suggestions to the government, recommendations on how to improve reporting on this matter. The government will follow, and is following, those recommendations.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, at first, they tried to explain how they lost track of $3.1 billion. They said that it was an internal matter. Then, they said it was a categorization error. The Conservatives definitely want to keep this internal categorization error a secret. If the Prime Minister has nothing to hide, then he should come clean.
    How can Canadians trust the Conservatives and their government when they have not lifted a finger to try to find the missing $3.1 billion?

  (1420)  

    Mr. Speaker, once again, the Auditor General himself has rejected the NDP leader's allegation. The Auditor General has made recommendations on how to improve reporting in the future. Clearly, the government will follow those recommendations.

Ethics

    Mr. Speaker, Mike Duffy, Mac Harb and Patrick Brazeau are all very good friends of the Liberals and the Conservatives, and they were caught red-handed making dubious claims for hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayers' money.
    Once they were caught, their only punishment was to pay back the money. They did not receive any punishment for betraying Canadians' trust or anything that would deter them from doing it again.
    If you want to commit fraud, all you have to do is get appointed as a Liberal or Conservative senator and you will not be punished. Is that the message the government is trying to send?
    Mr. Speaker, external auditors and experts examined all these expenditures and said that the rules were not clear. However, the Senate decided that it expects better judgment from certain senators and that all of the money in question will be repaid to the government.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, here is what is clear. Even the bogus investigation by his hand-picked cronies in the Senate found that Mike Duffy does not maintain a primary residence in Prince Edward Island. That means Mr. Duffy has not been a resident of Prince Edward Island in nearly 40 years, even though he was chosen for the Senate four years ago. The Constitution requires that a senator “be resident in the Province for which he is appointed”. The Conservatives now admit, through their own bogus investigation, that Mr. Duffy is not a resident of P.E.I., yet still say that he is qualified to be a senator from P.E.I.
    Why is the Prime Minister allowing this continuous fraud by the Conservatives in the Senate?
    Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, an independent external auditor was brought in to examine all of these expenses. He looked obviously at the expenses of three particular senators who have had some difficulty. The auditor has concluded that the rules in place were not clear; however, the Senate itself has decided it expects better judgment from the senators. Senator Duffy some months ago repaid the money, and the Senate has decided that other senators will be expected to similarly repay those amounts.

Employment Insurance

    Mr. Speaker, on another very serious matter, Jane Kittmer was diagnosed with breast cancer while receiving EI maternity leave benefits after the birth of her second child. Jane has beaten cancer, but for two and a half years she has had to fight the government for the EI sick leave benefit that she has paid into. Six weeks ago, the Prime Minister said this in the House, “the government is looking at a way to resolve this case”. Nothing has been done so far. Can the Prime Minister please tell Jane why not?
    Mr. Speaker, let me just remind members of the facts here, which is that the government has recently changed the law to deal with such cases in the future. This particular case is occurring under rules that existed under the previous government. However, as I said before in the House and I reiterate today, the government is committed to addressing and resolving that matter, and we continue to work on that.

[Translation]

Employment

    Mr. Speaker, while families are trying desperately to help their children find a summer job, the Conservatives' priorities are elsewhere.
    Instead of helping youths and middle-class families, the Conservatives are wasting more than $3,000 of taxpayers' money a day to spy on their own members in the media.
    The question I would like to ask the Prime Minister is this: how many people asked him to waste the equivalent of a job a day to spy on his own Conservative MPs in the media?

  (1425)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, to go back to the premise of the question, in fact, we just today announced the launch of Canada summer jobs 2013. It is a program that will create 36,000 jobs for young Canadians right across this great country. Not only will they get the experience that is so necessary for jobs in the future, but they will also get financial assistance to help pay for those careers so that they can develop the skills that are needed for the jobs of today and tomorrow.
    Mr. Speaker, the U.S., Japan, Australia, Sweden and other countries are all expecting economic growth better than Canada. Young Canadians especially are falling behind. There are 212,000 fewer of them who are working today than before the recession, 404,000 are looking for jobs, and this paranoid isolated government wastes $23 million, $32,000 every day, to spy on the media and its own backbench. For that spy money, the government could have triggered 7,600 summer jobs. Why did it not do that?
    Mr. Speaker, apart from the Canada summer jobs program that we launched today creating 36,000 jobs for young Canadians, this year alone we are helping 60,000 young people get jobs. Beyond that, since 2006, our government has helped over two million young people get jobs and get the skills and training for those jobs so they can contribute, participate and benefit from the workplace.

Statistics Canada

    Mr. Speaker, the government is wasting $32,000 tax dollars every day to spy on the media and its own backbench. It wastes another $95,000 in tax dollars on every government ad during hockey games. It vandalized the census and it now costs $25 million more to get less data. In 43% of Saskatchewan, it is a total failure. They have lost the town of Davin altogether and so Davin loses its municipal funding. Will the government compensate Davin for this Conservative ideological stupidity?
    Mr. Speaker, first of all, our government is committed to collecting statistical data while protecting Canadians' privacy. This is the principle.
    That being said, the survey provides useful and usable data for communities, representing 97% of the Canadian population. More Canadians responded to this survey than ever before. Statistics Canada just said yesterday, “At the national, provincial level, all of this information is pretty solid. It's high quality.”

[Translation]

Government Expenditures

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives still cannot tell us what the missing $3.1 billion was used for. Where is that money? Is it under a rock, between the cushions of a couch or in the toilet of an embarrassed mayor's cousin?
    The Auditor General's report is clear: the Treasury Board stopped tracking expenditures made under the anti-terrorism initiative in 2010. Yesterday, I asked the President of the Treasury Board what has been happening since 2010. He was unable to answer me.
    He lost $3.1 billion because he failed to track spending. How much more will he lose if he is still not tracking expenditures?
    Mr. Speaker, as I have already said, all of the information for every year from 2001 to 2012 can be found in the public accounts.
    The Auditor General clearly stated:

[English]

    We didn't find anything that gave us cause for concern that the money was used in any way it should not have been.
    He went on to say that departments:
...are responsible for accounting and reporting their spending through the Public Accounts of Canada....
    He said that departments would have undergone normal control procedures in those departments. So there are internal controls in departments about spending, and they would go through all of those normal processes.
    Those are the words of the Auditor General.

[Translation]

    Give me a break, Mr. Speaker. Do we need to send the UPAC to search the President of the Treasury Board's office to get answers?
    He still thinks that quoting the Auditor General out of context is going to convince people. Come on. The President of the Treasury Board lost track of $3.1 billion. It is therefore up to him to answer to Canadians, in his own words.
    His department maintains that a new expenditure monitoring system will not be implemented until 2014. That means four full years without proper monitoring.
    Can the President of the Treasury Board tell us how much money has been spent on the anti-terrorism initiative since 2010?

  (1430)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member asks whether I should be quoting the Auditor General. Who else should I be quoting?
    He goes on to say:
    We didn't identify anything that would cause us to say that we felt that anything was going on outside of these processes.
    He is very clear that the opposition characterization of these funds as lost in any way is completely inappropriate. He indicated that there was nothing:
...that gave us cause for concern that the money...was used in any way that it should not have been.
    Those are the words of the Auditor General.
    Mr. Speaker, the President of the Treasury Board continues to simply choose the quotes he likes from the Auditor General. He keeps saying that public accounts has the money.
    Here is what the Auditor General actually said:
    The information reported annually in the public accounts was at an aggregate level and...not separately reported as a distinct (or separate) line item. Furthermore...much of that information is now archived and unavailable.
    Why is the President of the Treasury Board claiming the money is in the public accounts when the Auditor General says no, it is not?
    Mr. Speaker, I will remind the hon. member that the public accounts are tabled in this chamber each and every year from 2001 to 2009, or if he wishes, 2001 to 2012. These are a matter of public record.
    Parliamentarians vote on the public accounts. This is part of our responsibility as parliamentarians. Those are clear. In fact, the Auditor General says that each department is responsible for its own spending and “normal control procedures in those departments”.
    Again, the Auditor General said:
...so there are internal controls in departments about spending and they would go through all of those normal processes.
    I rely on him.
    Mr. Speaker, clearly the department of the President of the Treasury Board did not do those controls, or it would know where the $3.1 billion went in the first place.
    The government has abandoned accountability. The Auditor General said this money was not reported to Parliament, and contrary to what the President of the Treasury Board says, it was not even reported to cabinet, the Auditor General said.
    Earlier today, the Conservative member for Nipissing—Timiskaming said the billions of dollars would be identified in “due course”.
    Can the President of the Treasury Board tell us when “due course” will eventually find its way to this House?
    Mr. Speaker, I hate to disagree with the hon. member. I certainly do not want to be disagreeable.
    However, again I will quote the Auditor General:
...[departments] are responsible for accounting and reporting their spending through the Public Accounts of Canada....
    That is a direct quote from the Auditor General. He said that spending within the departments would have undergone normal control procedures in those departments. He concludes:
    We didn't identify anything that would cause us to say that we felt that anything was going on outside of those processes.
    These are the words of the Auditor General.

Public Works and Government Services

    Mr. Speaker, here is a reason the government needs to find that $3.1 billion.
    This week the Ontario Superior Court ordered a further increase in the award of damages the government must pay Envoy Relocation Services, now over $40 million in total.
    In addition, it ordered the government to pay the full costs of $4.7 million because, in the words of the court:
reprehensible...conduct of the...[Crown] supplemented and aggravated by...conduct during the litigation.
    How can the government defend this reprehensible behaviour, leaving taxpayers to foot the bill?
    Mr. Speaker, I will leave the characterization of the former Liberal government's actions to the member opposite.
    However, as the member knows, these actions did occur under the former government. Since this is still before the court, I am not going to comment any further.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday, when I asked the President of the Treasury Board about the $2.4 billion in consultation contracts awarded in secret, often without details and sometimes to companies with unknown numbers, he told me “I may be able to find other ways of achieving this transparency.” I should hope so. That is his job.
    There is no information available on the awarding of 90% of the consultation contracts disclosed. Canadians have no idea how their money is being spent and who it is being given to.
    Can the minister tell us what practical measures he intends to take to improve the management of the public purse?

  (1435)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member does make a fair point. I do not think it is too much to ask that when departments engage in management contracts for perfectly appropriate reasons, such as first nations health branch using nurses, for instance, that there be a line or two added for publication on exactly what the contract is.
    I agree with the hon. member, and I think we should require this in the future.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives cannot even keep track of billions of dollars in contracts, but they are the champions of monitoring their own MPs.
    We now know that they are going so far as to waste millions of taxpayers' dollars on media monitoring to keep tabs on their own backbench MPs.
    We are talking about $2.4 million of our taxes to track 65 of their own MPs. It is ridiculous.
    Can the Conservatives explain how they could spend and waste so much of the taxpayers' money?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the member might be disappointed to find out the media monitoring services are used and accessed by the government but that they are also used and accessed by the opposition.
    They are there because on this side of the House, we do want to be aware of all of the media reporting about our members of Parliament, because we are very proud of the work they are doing. They appear in many articles across the media, doing excellent work on behalf of the government, and we are happy to receive those clippings.

Ethics

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to make it clear that the Conservatives spent millions spying on their own backbench while they lost $3.1 billion. Then they funnelled another $2.4 billion out the back door in contracts they cannot explain. Today, Conservative and Liberal senators are found guilty of ripping off the taxpayers.
    The Conservative government seems to think it is above accountability. It is a simple question: When is the Prime Minister going to take responsibility for this staggering level of incompetence? Why are there no consequences?
    Mr. Speaker, today the independent expert audit was tabled in the Senate.
    Its principal finding was, of course, that the rules were not clear. The Senate has already actually taken action to strengthen and improve those rules. Of course, from our perspective, the government expects the Senate to act and I understand the Senate is acting to ensure a higher standard of judgment applies.
    Thus, the senators in question are being asked to repay the sums that were claimed, which were deemed inappropriate by the Senate.
    Mr. Speaker, there they go again. The Senate was ripping off the taxpayers because they just were not very bright. How is that accountability?
    We have Brazeau now, and Duffy and Harb who ripped off the taxpayers for close to $200,000. We still do not know what Ms. Wallin ripped the taxpayers off for.
    If an ordinary Canadian engaged in behaviour like that, they would call it fraud, and the authorities would be brought in. Even some of the senators think the cops should be brought in.
    Where is the accountability? Will the government insist on accountability? Will it insist that documents are turned over to the police and that these people are held accountable for ripping off the taxpayers? It is a simple question.
    Mr. Speaker, the independent expert auditors actually do not agree with the assessment of the hon. member as to what took place. They indicated that the rules were not clear. As a result, the Senate is taking action to correct them, but certainly, the expert audit found no evidence of anything that would be approaching criminal activity.
    That being said, the expectation of this government is that the spirit of the rules must be respected. For that reason, Liberal Senator Mac Harb and independent Patrick Brazeau are expected to repay the funds they claimed inappropriately, as was done by another senator some months ago.

[Translation]

Employment

    Mr. Speaker, every month, this government wastes $100,000 of taxpayers' money on media monitoring to track its own MPs. It is incredible.
    In the meantime, it is eliminating jobs for our young students who are looking for work, putting a greater burden on the families that support them. This $100,000 represents 30 students who will not have a summer job.
    Why is this government wasting taxpayers' money in such a partisan way instead of finding jobs for our young students who so badly need them?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, maybe the member missed the announcement, but today we announced the launch of Canada summer jobs, which will be creating 36,000 jobs for students.
    Beyond that, in budget 2013, our economic action plan, there is funding for the creation of 5,000 internships for graduates who have had trouble finding work. Unfortunately, the Liberals may bray about it, but they do nothing to actually help young people get jobs, because they are voting against that budget.

  (1440)  

    Mr. Speaker, despite their self-congratulations, the Conservatives are supporting only half of the student summer jobs they used to. Meanwhile, they are finding $3,300 a day for media monitoring of their own MPs. Each single day of monitoring would fund a student job for the entire summer. A day spent peering over MPs' shoulders is deemed more important than a student's job.
    Will big brother please stop wasting taxpayers' money on monitoring its own members and hire a summer student to help figure out how to do free Google alerts?
    Mr. Speaker, on top of the 36,000 jobs being created this summer through the Canada summer jobs program, there is more to helping young people to get a job, like apprenticeships. In fact, through our apprenticeship incentive and completion grants, there are almost 400,000 of those that have gone out to young Canadians to help them prepare for the skills and jobs that are in high demand, jobs for these young people. That is really helping them.
    The Liberals should have supported those initiatives.
    Mr. Speaker, half as many summer student jobs now than when they took power is shameful.
    Let us put it in perspective. Conservatives spent $3,300—three thousand three hundred taxpayers' dollars—every day just to monitor what their backbench MPs have to say, because they have to toe the party line. They have to make sure they regurgitate the PMO talking points.
    It is shameful what they are doing over there. Every day, that is a summer student job that they are gassing. Why do they not back off on what they are doing with the monitoring and give summer students a job rather than looking after the parents at the PMO?
    Mr. Speaker, if the Liberals truly wanted to help young people get jobs then they would want them to get the skills they need for those jobs that are in demand. That makes it pretty difficult to explain why the Liberals voted against the apprenticeship incentive grant for young people. Those 400,000 apprenticeship incentive and completion grants have been distributed.
    They voted against funding for the pathways program that is helping 10,000 young people get the skills they need and get connected with the job market. They also voted against improvements to the Canada student loan program, expanding its eligibility. We are helping young people get the skills they need.

[Translation]

Search and Rescue

    Mr. Speaker, information obtained by Le Soleil indicates that the Conservatives are preparing to backtrack on their irresponsible decision to close the Quebec City marine rescue sub-centre.
    Under the pretext of eliminating the deficit, the Conservatives wanted to close the only marine rescue sub-centre providing services in French and thus put lives at risk. This centre responds to more than 1,500 distress calls every year.
    Can the minister confirm that there will be absolutely no changes to the activities of the Quebec City marine rescue sub-centre now or in the future?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we have always been clear that safety is our number one priority, and certainly language capability is very important for the centre in Quebec.
    We are not going to comment on speculation. The safety of mariners remains our top priority. The Canadian Coast Guard will delay consolidation of the eastern portion of the Quebec region until it is confident that a bilingual capacity is there in the system.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, we still do not have a clear answer. If they would talk to one another instead of spying on one another, we might not be in this predicament. We are talking about public safety. A responsible government must provide some reassurance and not leave the people who use the river and the centre's employees and their families in limbo. Keeping the centre open is the right thing to do.
    Can the minister confirm that he will not transfer the Quebec City marine rescue sub-centre to Halifax, Trenton or Montreal, yes or no?

  (1445)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what we are making: a responsible decision. The Canadian Coast Guard will delay consolidation of the eastern portion of the Quebec region until it is competent in the bilingual capacity of the system.
    Mr. Speaker, the fact is that the Conservatives greatly reduced the search and rescue capacity in this country by also closing the maritime rescue centres, like the one in St. John's, Newfoundland. Massive protests and public outcries did not stop the Conservatives from shutting down the St. John's rescue centre, which received more than 500 calls for help a year. Now they are starting to see the impact of their irresponsible, unexplainable choices.
    Will the Conservatives reverse their shortsighted decision to close the maritime rescue sub-centre in St. John's?
    Mr. Speaker, we closed the sub-centre in St. John's a year ago, and the facility in Halifax has been handling the work quite well. We have had no problems with the service at all.
    Mr. Speaker, it is clear that when it comes to listening to Canadians, the government has a tin ear.
    The Kitsilano Coast Guard station was unceremoniously closed because the government wanted to save a buck. This closure is putting the lives of Canadians at risk. New Democrats have been fighting against these closures while local Conservative MPs have gone silent. Why will they not listen to their local communities and reopen the station?
    Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is wrong, as usual. We are confident that the changes in Vancouver have not had any negative impact. In fact, since the closure of the Kitsilano base on February 19, the Canadian Coast Guard on Sea Island has responded to 38 search and rescue maritime distress incidents in the greater Vancouver area. These incidents involved 48 lives at risk and the reaction time was less than 10 minutes in each of those incidents.

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, our government has been working hard to ensure that the Experimental Lakes Area facility is transferred to a non-governmental operator better suited to conducting the type of world-class research that can be undertaken at this facility. The federal government has been leading negotiations in order to secure an operator with an international track record. This matters so much to my constituents in Winnipeg South Centre.
    Could the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans kindly update the House on the important milestone reached today for the Experimental Lakes Area?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank both the member for Winnipeg South Centre and the member for Kenora for their continued hard work on this file.
    I am pleased to announce that we have just signed a memorandum of understanding with the International Institute for Sustainable Development, an internationally renowned public policy research institute. This agreement is an important step for the future operations of ELA and will allow us to support research projects during the upcoming summer season. Our government looks forward to working with IISD on the future of this facility.

[Translation]

Statistics Canada

    Mr. Speaker, one more Conservative decision has turned out badly for Canadians: the decision to abolish the long form census. The data are of such low quality that Statistics Canada no longer has information on more than one-quarter of Canadian municipalities. Some 1,128 communities, mostly in rural areas, will not have the statistical data they need to plan their development properly.
     The Conservatives do not believe that political decisions should be based on the facts, but why penalize the municipalities and their decision-making process?
    Mr. Speaker, our government is determined to collect statistical data and, at the same time, protect Canadians' privacy. That is a good principle. The current survey has provided useful and usable data representing 97% of Canada's population. There were more respondents to this survey than the previous one.
     Once again, I want to point out what Statistics Canada said just yesterday about this, namely, that at the national and provincial level, all of this information is pretty solid and high quality.

  (1450)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, here is what Statistics Canada actually said about the household survey: “It will not, however, provide a level of quality that would have been achieved through a mandatory long-form census”. Remember? That is the one the Conservatives gutted.
     The data quality was so poor that they could not even report on 1,100 Canadian communities. In Saskatchewan, they reported on only 57% of municipalities. People in Saskatchewan want their tax dollars spent wisely, using the best information possible. Will the Conservatives now reverse their short-sighted decision to eliminate the long-form census?
    Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to collecting statistical data while protecting Canadians' privacy, and this is a good principle. We know the survey provides useful and usable data for communities representing 97% of the Canadian population. More Canadians responded to this form than to the previous form. As recently as yesterday, StatsCan said that “at the national, provincial level, all of this information is pretty solid. It's high quality”.

Employment Insurance

    Mr. Speaker, just to be clear, six weeks ago, the Prime Minister gave his word that he would resolve the case of the mother with cancer who was denied EI benefits, but as we have already heard, Jane Kittmer is still waiting, with no word from the government.
    When are the Conservatives going to follow up on the Prime Minister's own commitment in this House? Will Conservatives drop the appeal and resolve this case? Is the government prepared to do the right thing for Jane Kittmer today?
    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member should be aware that our government has changed the rules so that people who unfortunately find themselves in situations like this, going forward, will be taken care of through employment insurance. This particular case occurred under the previous government's rules. That being said, we are looking at ways to successfully resolve this situation.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives have butchered the employment insurance program, and people like the mother with cancer are paying the price.
     What disturbs me most is their twisted logic. When unemployed people want to claim benefits, they are asked to show proof that they have lost their jobs. However, when the Conservatives lose track of $3.1 billion, which is a rather large sum, they tell us it is not important that there are no documents.
     Why treat employment insurance claimants like criminals and let ministers off easy? Why is there a double standard?
    Mr. Speaker, workers all across Canada expect us to respect the money they pay into the employment insurance system. That is why we take it as our great responsibility to protect the integrity of the system, in order to ensure that the money will be there for unemployed people who qualify, when they need it.

[English]

Democratic Reform

    Mr. Speaker, the democratic reform file is a mess. It took the Conservatives five years to seek the Supreme Court's opinion on Senate reform. The political loans accountability act is so bad that the Conservative-dominated committee refused to consider it for six months. They tried to table an electoral reform bill without consulting the Chief Electoral Officer.
    With so many failures, will the Minister of State for Democratic Reform give his assurance that they will properly consult the Chief Electoral Officer before tabling their next bill?
    Mr. Speaker, the audit that was recently released by Elections Canada highlights widespread errors in Elections Canada's operations in the last election. As I have indicated before, we will be bringing forward amendments to the law in the not-too-distant future.

Employment Insurance

    Mr. Speaker, in March, we found out that the Conservatives were fighting Jane Kittmer, new mother and cancer survivor, in court in order to avoid paying her sickness benefits. They were totally ignoring the umpire's decision in 2007 in the Rougas case, which showed that the government had been misinterpreting the law tabled by the Liberals in 2002.
    When the Prime Minister was confronted with this disgraceful action, he said, “the government is looking at a way to resolve this”.
    Here is a simple question: Will the minister get Ms. Kittmer her benefits now, or do the Prime Minister's words mean absolutely nothing?

  (1455)  

    Mr. Speaker, it was our government that did change the rules so that individuals who find themselves in this unfortunate situation will have the support of employment insurance going forward. That being said, this case was under the old rules brought in by the Liberal government. We are looking for ways to resolve the situation.

Aboriginal Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, in 2007, this House voted unanimously for Jordan's principle, ensuring that the care of first nations children would not get lost in jurisdictional squabbling between different levels of government. However, the Conservatives are now breaking that commitment. They are appealing the Federal Court's decision that would actually force them to apply Jordan's principle to the case of a severely disabled teenager from Pictou Landing reserve.
    Why is the government turning its back on its own vote at the moment it matters most?
    Mr. Speaker, we are absolutely committed to ensuring the health and safety of aboriginal children. We have launched a new aboriginal health project and have designated new resources to improve the health of children on reserves. In this case, we believe we have met our obligations, and Canada has decided to appeal to ensure that individual cases are treated in accordance with provincial standards.
    It is the opposition that should answer for opposing our matrimonial real property rights legislation that would protect aboriginal women and children on reserve.
    Mr. Speaker, justice delayed is justice denied.
    Aboriginal children in need deserve better, their families deserve better, and Jeremy and Maurina deserve better. The Conservatives' decision to appeal the court's ruling, when the government publicly declared it would respect Jordan's principle is downright shameful, especially when the amount of money spent on the appeal would pay for Jeremy's care many times over.
    Why is the government opposing equality for aboriginal children?
    Mr. Speaker, as I said previously, we are absolutely committed to the health, safety and protection of children across Canada, but for these purposes, on reserve. That is why we have taken steps to make those investments in aboriginal health projects focused on children, and that is why we believe we must appeal to ensure that individual cases are treated in accordance with provincial standards.
    On the matrimonial real property matter, it is time for the NDP to put down its talking points and support the protection of women and children on reserve.

Multiculturalism

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Liberal Party critic for multiculturalism put out a shocking statement that has caused great offence among Canadians of Ukrainian origin. He insulted the memory of all those who fought for Ukraine's independence and died as a result of Communist oppression at the hands of Soviet Russia, by suggesting that the Brezhnev era holiday marking the unwelcome return of the Soviet domination of Ukraine should be celebrated.
    Would the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism tell us why this is so obviously offensive to the Ukrainian community and why, unlike the Liberal leader, we condemn this ignorant statement—
    An hon. member: Insulting. Insulting.
    Mr. Speaker, the member is right to point out that members of Canada's Ukrainian community were shocked to see the Liberal Party issue a statement celebrating the Soviet holiday created by Communist chairman Leonid Brezhnev, Victory Day, in Ukraine.
    Let us be clear. We Canadians celebrate the victory of freedom over Nazi terror on VE Day, on May 8. However, for millions, Soviet Victory Day represents the moment when the Iron Curtain came down on the captive nations of Eastern Europe, beginning decades of Communist oppression. What kind of bizarre historical ignorance could lead the Liberal Party to tell Ukrainians in Canada to celebrate this Soviet holiday? I encourage the Liberal Party to retract this insensitive statement and to apologize.

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, a grave situation seems to be developing off the coast of Change Islands in Newfoundland and Labrador. The Manolis L. is a sunken large vessel 270 feet under water. It contains, currently, 460 tonnes of fuel oil and 60 tonnes of diesel. Two leaks have now been identified, and the situation with the leaking oil is getting worse. Fishermen along the entire coast are calling my office, witnessing this oil coming to surface.
    So far, the solution is to patch the holes, but what if the situation gets worse? What is the minister prepared to do if the situation gets much worse than what we are seeing now?

  (1500)  

    Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Coast Guard continues to work closely with its federal partners to address the threat of marine pollution from this particular wreck. The Canadian Coast Guard has been on scene since it was reported on March 31. The Canadian Coast Guard will continue to actively monitor the situation and is assessing the best approach for reducing the pollution threat.
    Mr. Speaker, Randle Reef in Hamilton Harbour is one of North America's most toxic sites. The deadline to sign a cleanup agreement between the federal and provincial governments and local Hamilton stakeholders is fast approaching. However, the Hamilton Port Authority has now raised last-minute liability issues that threaten to derail the negotiations.
    Will the Minister of the Environment please inform the House and Hamiltonians what action he will take to ensure that this critical environmental cleanup takes place?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for a timely question.
    Randle Reef is the largest contaminated sediment site in Canadian waters of the Great Lakes. Remediation is a priority of our government. Environment Canada is leading this project, moving forward aggressively to complete project implementation agreements with all participating organizations, including the port authority, to ensure that this important project continues to move ahead and not establish any schedule issues.

Veterans Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians know and expect that we will always do our utmost to serve and help veterans, especially when they are affected by mental health issues.
    Our government is keen to work with valued partners, like Steve Critchley and Jim Marland who run Can Praxis based out of Rocky Mountain House in my riding, who are helping to take our service one step further.
    As we move toward the end of mental health week, could the Minister of Veterans Affairs tell the House about how our government is listening to veterans and launching exciting new partnerships to help veterans with mental health issues?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Wetaskiwin and all members of the House for supporting Korean War veterans day in the House.
    I also want to thank the member for raising the question of mental health for our whole society and more specifically, veterans.

[Translation]

     There were three announcements about partnership agreements this week. The first is with Ryerson University, where 150 clinicians will provide adapted care for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. Another partnership is with St. John Ambulance to provide animal therapy for our veterans in long-term care. The third agreement, with Can Praxis, in the hon. member's riding, will offer equine therapy to veterans with operational stress injuries.

Transportation

    Mr. Speaker, for years, the residents of Vaudreuil-Soulanges have been asking for better train service.
    They are fed up with traffic jams on autoroutes 20 and 40 and construction on the Turcot and Saint-Pierre interchanges. Yesterday, the Agence métropolitaine de transport announced that new trains would not be available until 2015.
    The NDP proposed a pragmatic infrastructure and transportation plan, but this government voted against it.
    What do the Conservatives plan to do to relieve traffic congestion in the Montreal area?
    Mr. Speaker, autoroutes 20 and 40, the Agence métropolitaine de transport and the Turcot interchange all have one thing in common: they all come under provincial jurisdiction.
    My colleague does not understand federal and provincial jurisdictions. The hon. members on the other side of the House absolutely do not understand this.
    We respect the provinces. We are going to continue working with the Province of Quebec and its representatives, and we are going to respect their choices.

1982 Repatriation of the Constitution

    Mr. Speaker, Quebeckers want the truth about the repatriation of the Constitution and how it was forced on Quebeckers.
    Two-thirds of Quebeckers are not buying the government's claim that this is an old debate, and they want Ottawa to open the archives and shed light on the serious irregularities alleged by historian Frédéric Bastien, in particular that Supreme Court judges allegedly violated fundamental democratic principles.
    Instead of insulting two-thirds of Quebeckers by saying that they are wrong to want to shed the light on these events, will the Prime Minister

  (1505)  

    Order.
    The hon. Minister of Transport.
    Mr. Speaker, the member obviously wants Quebec to separate from Canada, but we want a strong Quebec within a united Canada. It is clear that we will not agree.
    We are not interested in rehashing old constitutional squabbles, and neither are Quebeckers, despite what my colleague says. The Supreme Court did its job and handed down a decision. We will continue to work on making Canada a strong and united country.

Presence in Gallery

    I wish to draw the attention of members to the presence in the gallery of a delegation from the National Constituent Assembly of the Republic of Tunisia, as part of the G8 Deauville Partnership.
    Some hon. members: Hear, hear!

[English]

    The member for Scarborough—Agincourt is rising on a point of order.
    Mr. Speaker, Ukrainian Victory Day is a national holiday in the Ukraine. I have been in contact with the community. A letter has been issued, which says:
    Thank you for your letter in which you expressed concerns with respect to my Statement on “Victory Day in Ukraine”.
    Order, please.
    I have not heard anything that would suggest that this is a point of order. It sounds like a continuation of debate, which the member is free to do, but not on a point of order. Perhaps he can do it in a future question period or maybe make a statement.
    The hon. Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism is rising on a point of order.
    Mr. Speaker, adding insult to injury, the member is referring to this proud and independent country as "the Ukraine". It is not a province of Russia or the Soviet Union, it is Ukraine.
    That was also not a point of order.
    I fear we are on the cusp of entering into an elongated debate on this. If members have points of order that they would like to address, I will hear them after the Thursday question.
    The hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley.

Business of the House

[Business of the House]
    Mr. Speaker, it is not a point of order, but it is accurate in that case.

[Translation]

    I would like to ask the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons what is on the agenda for tomorrow and when we return after the constituency week.

[English]

    Before doing that, I would like to go back to something that was talked about just prior to question period.
    I would like to ask the House leader across the way if he agrees with the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, who said just yesterday as his government was in the process of killing off debate yet again, for a record 33rd time, on a top-down paternalistic bill for first nations communities, that time allocation and the shutting down of debate is not a way of actually cutting off debate, it is just a way of controlling debate.
    It is an astounding revelation coming from a Conservative minister, perhaps one that was too truthful for my friend across the way's own liking. The Conservative government is cutting off debate and abusing the basic democratic principles of the House more than any other government in Canadian history.
    I look forward to the debate in the committee of the whole tonight to hear what the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs has to say to defend himself.

[Translation]

    I would also like the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons to tell us when the next committee of the whole will be, when the Minister of Natural Resources will inform us of his spending priorities.