Jean Chretien

Liberal Party

Pierre Trudeau

Canadian Alliance

Chretien Tries to Dodge Scathing Report

Date: OCT17-00
Source: House of Commons Hansard
Keywords: despotism
Comment: Chretien tries to sidestep Official Opposition questioning on the deliberate undermining of democracy revealed in the Information Commissioner's report.
Posted: OCT27-00
Jean Chretien Index



Mr. Stockwell Day (Leader of the Opposition, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the report of the auditor general today and the report of the information commissioner, which was blocked from question period yesterday, cataloguing the Prime Minister's disrespect of public funds and the democratic process, were interesting.

The commissioner's report in bold type has the words "Mayday-Mayday", the international call for help. The report in question says that the action of the Prime Minister's Office is "undermining the democratic process".

The Prime Minister needs to stand right now and do one of two things. He should tell us the information commissioner is not telling the truth or apologize to Canadians for undermining democracy. Which one is it?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we have a law on freedom of information and we are obliged by the law. Yes, there are requests. We have to analyze every request to see if it is within or outside the law. Of course some information has to remain in the privy of the offices of the Prime Minister and the ministers for the proper administration of government.

When we have a disagreement there is a mechanism in the law that exists. The commissioners can go to court and ask for a ruling. When they go we oblige, but at the same time we have to protect the responsibilities of ministers to have the right to communicate among themselves for the betterment of the government. We have the right to have some-

The Deputy Speaker: The hon. Leader of the Opposition.

Mr. Stockwell Day (Leader of the Opposition, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister missed the point. It says he is undermining democracy.

It is no wonder that we have such a hard time getting information from the HRD commissioner on wasting $3 billion a year when the information commissioner says that the future careers of the commissioner's staff have been threatened, and that if members of the public service come to believe that it is career suicide to do a good job for the information commissioner, the effectiveness of the office is in grave danger.

If the Prime Minister is refusing to apologize to the public for undermining democracy, will he at least apologize to the information commissioner's staff for any threat to their livelihood?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, if any threat has been made by anybody, I hope these people will make specific accusations about it. It is completely unacceptable if their jobs were threatened.

I will see that proper action is taken, if somebody did it, but we want to have the facts, not a statement.

Mr. Stockwell Day (Leader of the Opposition, Canadian Alliance): They did, Mr. Speaker, very specifically, and the Prime Minister thinks he can win an election on those values.

The information commissioner makes other rulings directly to the Prime Minister's Office that no other minister, in 17 years, has refused to co-operate with the information commissioner's investigations, and that the Prime Minister's Office may be sending a message to other ministers to cease co-operating with investigations.

No other minister in 17 years has had such a poor performance as the Prime Minister, undermining democracy, threatening public servants and encouraging cabinet ministers not to co-operate with investigations. If the information commissioner is not telling the-


Jean Chretien Index
[Home] [Webmaster]