Politics Watch - Canada's Political Portal

PoliticsWatch News 

by Romeo St. Martin

 arrow-trans.gif (111 bytes) PoliticsWatch.com Home Page, including top Canadian political and national headlines, photos and resources


arrow-trans.gif (111 bytes)Inside PoliticsWatch

Diane Marleau's testimony 

Standing Committee on Public Accounts 
Comité permanent des comptes publics 
EVIDENCE number 15, Témoignages du comité numéro 15 
Thursday March 25, 2004
Le jeudi 25 mars 2004

* (1200) 
The Chair: 

Welcome back everybody. Now we'll continue on with our orders of the day, which is Chapters 3, 4 and 5 of the Auditor General's Report.
We have before us the Honourable Diane Marleau, P.C., M.P., member of Parliament for Sudbury.

Before we start, Madam Marleau, I have a little statement that you're likely familiar with as a member of Parliament:

That the refusal to answer questions or failure to reply truthfully may give rise to a charge of contempt of the House, whether the witness has been sworn in or not. In addition, witnesses who lie under oath may be charged with perjury. 

That's from Marleau Montpetit, page 862, and in no way, shape or form is addressed to you specifically. I say that to all witnesses appearing. 

The other question that I ask is, have you been coached in your statement in way, shape or form, have you talked to government officials, former government officials or anybody with knowledge of this, including members of Parliament. I will go on the record as saying we had a discussion about this a couple of days ago, and Madam Jennings says also. But, of course, as a member of Parliament, you are our colleague and you would talk to us all the time too.
* (1205) 
Hon. Diane Marleau (Sudbury, Lib.): That's right. Are we ready?

The Chair: We're ready, the floor is yours. You have an opening statement and it shall be distributed.

Hon. Diane Marleau: Mr. Chairman, and members of the committee ... yes?

The Chair: I have to say that this statement is in one official language.

Hon. Diane Marleau: I was going to make a statement to that effect as well.
A Voice: (Inaud.) 
The Chair: No, it's right here. Are we able to circulate this in one official language? We had it in French only the last time and we agreed to circulate it. This one happens to be in English, can we circulate this one?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

The Chair: There's one other thing also that the law clerk just advised me, that, of course, you are aware that the orders in council have been passed to relieve you from your oath of office pertaining to this investigation only, of course, and, of course, that we have access to documents. If you feel constrained by your oath, please say so.

Hon. Diane Marleau: I don't.

The Chair: The report is being distributed and the floor is yours.

Hon. Diane Marleau: Mr. Chairman, and members of the committee.

By the way, it brings back some old memories to be sitting in this position as compared to sitting on the other side.

Mr. Chairman, I did not speak to any former government people that I was working with when I was Minister of Public Works and Government Services, and I did not do anything more than contact the Prime Minister's office to let them know I would be appearing here. This all happened very quickly, and I made the decision only yesterday afternoon to let my name come forward this quickly.

I welcome the opportunity to appear before you and assist you in any way I can on the issue of the sponsorship file, as reported in the November 2003 Auditor General's report. 

I have been in public office since my election to city council in Sudbury in 1980. In that capacity, as chair of the finance committee, I made a name for myself tackling municipal financial problems. I am now in my 16th year as a parliamentarian here in Ottawa, and have had the immense privilege of serving as a cabinet minister from 1993 to 1999. I held the portfolios of health, public works and government services, international cooperation, and Minister responsible for la Francophonie. 

I believe in getting value for money spent, and in ensuring that money the government receives from the Canadian taxpayers is treated with the respect it deserves. Like you, I was shocked and outraged at what the Auditor General outlined in her November 2003 report. I was shocked not only as an elected representative, but as a former Minister of Public Works and Government Services. I've always ascribed to the belief that whatever we spend as a government, we have an obligation to be accountable, open, and transparent in our dealings. 

My term as public works minister was brief, from January 26, 1996 to June 11, 1997. While there I did my best to ensure that the department was run with both integrity and an eye to ensuring value for money. 

Upon my arrival at the Department of Public Works and Government Services, I made it clear to departmental officials that under my watch all protocols and rules to control expenditures and ensure transparency would be followed. Because integrity was the foundation on which I ran my departments, when I had departments, I'm proud of my record of achievements. 

You'll also recall that during my short term at public works, the government was involved in some very major files that I was responsible for. Among them was the privatization of the Queen's Printer. That was accomplished during my mandate. The Canada Post mandate review was also accomplished, and the report was released in October 1996. 

At the same time, I had responsibility for Canada Mortgage and Housing, and the government had made a decision to transfer the administration of federal social housing to the provinces and territories. I was also involved in that transfer. I also had the immense privilege of watching the Confederation Bridge being built and officially opening it. These are just a few of my responsibilities in that important federal department. 

On my views on this particular file, I will confirm that I did sign off on a Treasury Board submission with the Prime Minister in November 1996 to provide the moneys necessary to promote the Canadian identity. 

I still believe, as I did then, in the importance of ensuring that Canadians know the ongoing role the government plays in their day-to-day lives. I've always operated under the rule that if a program is good, we need to tell Canadians that we're doing it.
* (1210) 
I would also like to add, at this point, that I worked extremely well with Mr. Ran Quail throughout my term at Public Works. I have immense respect for his integrity and for his excellent capabilities as deputy minister. I'm also proud to stand behind Prime Minister Paul Martin's action plan to deal with this issue. The straightforward manner and integrity with which he's dealing with this file is a credit to leadership and to open government. 

I look forward to your questions. 
Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you very much, Ms. Marleau. Just one point on your statement regarding the Treasury Board's submissions. You said that you did sign off on the submissions and you said, with the prime minister...your opening statement said "former" prime minister?

Hon. Diane Marleau: The former prime minister, sorry.

The Chair: The former prime minister. Thank you very much. Mr. Toews, please, eight minutes.

Mr. Vic Toews: Thank you, Madam Marleau, and thank you for attending here. I note one of your final statements saying that you've always operated under the rule that if the program is good enough to spend taxpayer money on, then Canadians have a right to know about it. I'm sure you would agree, the opposite is true, as well, that if it was a bad program...
* (1215) 
Hon. Diane Marleau: Absolutely.

Mr. Vic Toews: Thank you. 

We've heard, today, some pretty startling evidence about how the sponsorship program was run. A career public servant, Huguette Tremblay, came here and gave us some very insightful insiders information.

Now, Madam Marleau, you indicated, in a prior interview, that in relation to the department, you said, 

I cleaned it up big time, but I left in 1997 and sometimes I think, wouldn't it have been wonderful if I stayed on? Maybe this wouldn't have happened; who knows. 
But Chrétien chose to move me out and move Gagliano in, and now we're going to pay for it. 

This was a quote in the Sudbury Star, 02/11/04. So you cleaned it up big time. We heard some pretty startling evidence here today that things were done in a deliberately sloppy way inside the sponsorship program--lack of paper trail, verbal instructions, lack of controls, some backdating of contracts. Now, between the time you cleaned it up and the auditor general's report, and I just want to point out what the auditor general stated in her audit. She said, 

These arrangements, dealing with the sponsorship program, involving multiple transactions, with multiple companies and artificial invoices and contracts, or no written contracts at all, appear to have been designed to pay commissions to communications agencies while hiding the source of funding and the true substance of the transactions. 

So, somewhere between the time you cleaned it up big time, and the auditor general found big time problems, something happened. What did you do to clean it up and maybe we'll get the other half of the answer from somebody else.

Hon. Diane Marleau: Well, Mr. Chair, first of all, let me say that the sponsorship program, as it became known, did not exist while I was the Public Works minister. There was a beginning of a program on Canadian identity, on ensuring that the Canada Wordmark start to be present across the country.

My recollections are that there was the Bureau of Information Canada--in French we called it "le BIC." That was run out of Heritage Canada, and that we were starting, as well, at Public Works, to start showing the Wordmark more clearly on buildings, etc.

Mr. Vic Toews: If I could just stop you there. That's an important point. So, the formal program hadn't been set up in 1996 when you came. We heard other evidence from Mr. Cutler that on November 17, 1994, a full year before the Quebec referendum, there was a collapse of the watchdog function inside that office, so that those responsible for giving the contract, and those for monitoring to see whether there had been value received, was collapsed into one function. Were you aware of that problem, and if so, what did you do about it?

Hon. Diane Marleau: No, I was not aware of that problem at that time. I was aware that there had been numerals put in place for advertising and public-opinion research, I believe, in 1994. My recollection of that particular document was that it was to spread the advertising contracts more evenly, and as well, there was something in there that said "preventing political operatives from working inside and influencing the outcome". I recall that in particular, but do I recall what you're saying? Absolutely not.

Mr. Vic Toews: So you don't recall the collapse of that--

Hon. Diane Marleau: Remember, I wasn't there until January of 1996, so I couldn't tell you about that. 

Mr. Vic Toews: So that issue then, in November of 1994, that collapse of the watchdog function, hadn't been brought to your attention.

Now, dealing with the influence of political operatives, we've heard Huguette Tremblay say today that the minister--Gagliano at that time--was very directly involved with Mr. Guité in the office, that there was a direct relationship. Mr. Ran Quail, the deputy minister, was essentially shut out of the process.

Did you have that same experience, Madame Marleau, when you were the minister? Did you deal directly with the communications people, if the sponsorship program wasn't there, or did you deal through Mr. Quail in dealing with that particular area?

Hon. Diane Marleau: I did not deal directly with the people from that shop. I insisted that these people report through proper channels, through the deputy minister's office.

Mr. Vic Toews: That would be, in my experience as a public servant, the proper way to conduct business, that where you have a relatively small group of employees, out of a group of.... Mr. Gagliano said he had 90,000 employees, including Crown corporations, and a $4-billion budget. It would strike you as unusual as well that there would be a direct relationship between a small group of employees well within the department and the minister, would it not?
* (1220) 
Hon. Diane Marleau: Yes, it would. 

I'm going to add something here, and that is when I first became the Minister of Public Works, a gentleman showed up in my offices and said, "By the way, I report here". That gentleman, sir, was Mr. Guité. I said, "No, a director", and I believe he was a director at the time, "does not report directly to a minister's office".

Mr. Vic Toews: So he showed up at your office. Did he give you any explanation as to why he showed up at your office, insisting that--

Hon. Diane Marleau: No. He just said that he reported to my office, and I said, "Not this office you don't", and insisted that he report through proper channels, and actually discussed it with the deputy minister to ensure that he did go through proper channels. Frankly, I was shocked that this person would purport to report directly to a minister's office, and I didn't allow it to happen.

Mr. Vic Toews: All right.

Now, you would have as a minister received extensive briefings when you became the Public Works minister, is that not correct?

Hon. Diane Marleau: That's right.

Mr. Vic Toews: Who provided those briefings to you?

Hon. Diane Marleau: It was always the top officials. Now, they would bring in members of the different departments, but that was very much under the direction of the deputy minister and the associate deputy ministers, or the Crown corporations and their personnel.

Mr. Vic Toews: Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Toews.

Madame Guay please. S'il vous plaît, huit minutes. 
Mme Monique Guay (Laurentides, BQ): Merci, monsieur le président.
Madame Marleau, M. Jubinville, du premier ministre, dit que c'est à partir de 1996 que les paramètres et les conditions de financement ont été créés. Vous avez signé le document. Vous étiez ministre à partir du 25 janvier 1996 et vous l'avez été jusqu'au 10 juin 1997. Est-ce que vous pouvez nous donner de l'information à ce sujet?

Il y a aussi une citation de M. Gagliano qui disait, lui aussi: " Tout était en place lorsqu'il est arrivé ". Alors, j'aimerais que vous nous donniez de l'information là-dessus.

L'hon. Diane Marleau: Je peux vous dire que j'ai signé le document en question. Pour moi c'était essentiel de parler du gouvernement du Canada, non seulement au Québec mais partout au pays.

Vous savez, quand je suis arrivée au ministère des Travaux publics et Services gouvernementaux, le référendum venait de se passer. Comme francophone hors-Québec, c'était un moment très difficile pour moi. D'insister qu'on parle du fait qu'on est le gouvernement du Canada, c'était quelque chose qui me tenait à coeur. J'avais même demandé au sous-ministre, lorsque je suis arrivée à Travaux Publics-on traversait le pont pour se rendre à Hull-comment se faisait-il qu'il n'y avait aucune enseigne sur les édifices fédéraux. Et on m'a alors dit: "Ah, eh bien il n'y en a pas." J'ai répondu: "Oui mais on devrait laisser savoir aux gens ce qui se passe ici." Et on m'a dit qu'on n'avait pas d'argent pour ce programme-là. Lorsqu'on a commencé, on a mis en place un moyen de financer un programme comme celui-là.

Mme Monique Guay: Madame Marleau, si on parle de 34 millions, est-ce que vous faisiez un certain suivi? C'est beaucoup d'argent, 34 millions de dollars et vous avez vu ce qui s'est produit par la suite. Quand vous me dites que ce n'est pas seulement au Québec, je regrette. C'est majoritairement et pratiquement entièrement au Québec que cet argent a été investi et il a l'a été fait, comment dire, de façon pas très incompréhensible. Il faudrait peut-être que vous nous donniez des réponses à ce sujet, pas sur le référendum mais comment cet argent a été distribué. Est-ce que vous aviez la main-mise là-dessus? Vous aviez des règles.

L'hon. Diane Marleau: Oui. Vous allez vous souvenir que dans le temps c'était une fonction de Travaux Publics que de donner des services aux différents ministères, des services en promotion, ou ainsi de suite. C'est de cette façon que la plupart de ces contrats ont été émis. À part cela, vous savez, on a... cela fait longtemps, j'essaie de me souvenir de tous les cas. Je me souviens de certains détails, qu'on parlait de où on va mettre l'écusson, le drapeau du Canada, ou des choses comme cela. Mais vous savez, ça fait déjà longtemps que je ne suis plus là. Je peux vous parler en général mais pour le détail, cela commence à être loin.
* (1225) 
Mme Monique Guay: C'est important parce que ce sont quand même des investissements qui ont été faits par votre ministère.

L'hon. Diane Marleau: Mais, madame, je suis simple députée. Vous allez voir, je n'ai pas d'avocat à mes côtés, je ne suis pas allée voir Travaux Publics pour qu'on me donne tous les documents. J'ai demandé au greffier du comité qu'on me donne les documents que vous aviez. C'est la seule chose que j'ai.

Vous me demandez de me souvenir d'un programme qui faisait partie d'un ministère qui dépensait des sommes extraordinaires. Je m'excuse là.

Mme Monique Guay: J'aurais souhaité que vous ayez un peu plus de souvenirs de ce programme. C'était un programme très important, vous l'admettrez. Vous l'avez administré pendant un an et demi. Cela aurait été intéressant qu'on puisse avoir un peu plus d'information.

Cela étant dit, Chuck Guité, vous savez de qui je parle, se vantait d'être en contact régulier avec le bureau du premier ministre. J'aimerais savoir ce que vous en saviez, ce que vous saviez à ce moment-là de Chuck Guité?

L'hon. Diane Marleau: Comme je vous l'ai dit, quand je suis arrivée, M. Guité a dit qu'il répondait au bureau du ministre et moi, je lui ai dit: "Non". J'ai insisté pour qu'il réponde par les propres... qu'il suive les directives qui sont en place pour les programmes. Je ne peux pas vous dire s'il rencontrait les gens toutes les semaines ou non. Il ne se rapportait pas à moi.

Mme Monique Guay: Il se rapportait à qui? Il s'est rapporté à votre précécesseur.
L'hon. Diane Marleau: Par le ministère, il faudrait que vous demandiez au sous-ministre et au sous-ministre adjoint. C'est à eux de décider de quelle façon le personnel va répondre. Quant à moi, c'était essentiel qu'une personne dans la position de M. Guité ne se rapporte pas directement au ministre parce cela enlève beaucoup, en anglais on dirait de "checks and balances". Et c'est essentiel de continuer à contrôler le ministère d'une façon saine. Pour moi, c'est la façon dont j'ai insisté.

Mme Monique Guay: Est-ce que je peux savoir qui... ? Est-ce c'était le ministre des Finances qui fixait la taille de cette enveloppe budgétaire, ou était-ce une discussion que vous aviez ensemble? Normalement, quand on co-signe un document on admet qu'on est d'accord avec la proposition. Qui décidait de l'enveloppe du budget?

L'hon. Diane Marleau: Ce n'était certainement pas le ministre des Finances. Le Conseil du Trésor aurait eu des discussions à ce sujet et c'est la façon dont les sommes d'argent ont été mises de l'avant.

Mme Monique Guay: Avez-vous eu des discussions avec le Conseil du Trésor?

L'hon. Diane Marleau: Le programme est allé devant le Conseil du Trésor. On le sait, je ne me souviens pas s'il y a eu des discussions à ce point-là ou non. Cela fait longtemps de ça. Mais je me souviens que c'est allé devant le Conseil du Trésor. À part cela, je ne peux pas vous dire autre chose.

Mme Monique Guay: On sait que la mémoire est une faculté qui oublie. On s'en rend compte aussi. Madame Marleau...

L'hon. Diane Marleau: J'espère que vous pouvez vous souvenir de tous les détails d'il y a huit ans.

Mme Monique Guay: Je me souviens que j'étais porte-parole de mon parti aux travaux publics en 1994 et 1995 alors que M. David Dingwall était ministre. Alors j'ai encore le souvenir de certains dossiers. 

L'hon. Diane Marleau: Ah, oui?

Mme Monique Guay: J'ai une bonne mémoire.

L'hon. Diane Marleau: Moi aussi, j'ai des souvenirs précis de mes dossiers mais pas dans tous les détails.

Mme Monique Guay: Vous avez dit tout à l'heure que vous aviez fait du ménage en arrivant à Travaux Publics. Est-ce que vous pourriez nous dire ce que vous avez fait exactement?

L'hon. Diane Marleau: Ce qu'on a fait c'est qu'on a insisté pour suivre les règles du jeu. C'était une directive que j'ai donné à toutes les rencontres avec le sous-ministre et tous les autres qui venaient aux rencontres organisées par le sous-ministre pour me breffer. De plus, à un moment donné, nous avons fait la revue de toutes les autorités dans le ministère. C'est important pour moi de m'assurer que la délégation d'autorité soit revue. Et c'est ce que j'ai fait lorsque j'étais là.

Mme Monique Guay: Il me reste un peu de temps. J'ai une autre question. En 1996 une enquête a été commandée sur la gestion de la division de Chuck Guité. J'aimerais savoir qui a commandé l'étude, qu'est-ce que vous reteniez de cette étude, et quels correctifs avez-vous proposés.

L'hon. Diane Marleau: À ce point-ci, je dois vous dire que je me souviens qu'il y avait eu quelque chose qui se passait là. Mais est-ce que je me souviens parce que je l'ai entendu depuis ce temps-là, ou est-ce parce que je me souviens de ce temps-là, c'est difficile à dire.

Vous savez, quand on va en cour, on dit toujours aux gens qui sont devant un cour: "Il faut essayer de ne pas écouter les nouvelles parce que celles-ci nous donne des détails que peut-être on n'avait pas dans le temps". Et à ce moment-ci, j'ai bien de la difficulté à décider jusqu'à quel point j'étais au courant de cela, et jusqu'à quel point maintenant je suis au courant parce que je l'ai lu dans les journaux. C'est très difficile pour moi de vous le dire.

Mme Monique Guay: 
L'hon. Diane Marleau: 
The Chair: Merci beaucoup, Madam Guay.
Ms. Phinney please, eight minutes.
* (1230) 
Ms. Beth Phinney: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

Thank you, Madam Marleau, for coming here today.

When Mr. Quail was in as a witness, and maybe the chair can correct me if I'm wrong, I think he told us that he wasn't ever consulted about this program, that Mr. Guité did it all and he was never consulted. Was that correct?

The Chair: My recollections were along the lines-I'm not going to use the word, never, but he certainly didn't feel in the loop, maybe even less than that-he was not involved in the administration of this particular program and it seemed to go on without him, but the actual wording...

Ms. Beth Phinney: I think that's clear enough.
You have said that Mr. Guité did not report to you, he tried, but he didn't report to you. Could you explain again who you think he might have reported to? Would he have reported to Mr. Quail? Wouldn't that be the logical step for him?

Hon. Diane Marleau: Absolutely, but you have to recall that the program as it became known was not in place at the time that I was there.

Ms. Beth Phinney: But the part of it that was there already because Mr. Cotler made his report and there was a program there.

Hon. Diane Marleau: Yes, there was advertising and public opinion research being done. As I said, Public Works was doing client services and for the most part most of these things would have been done at the request of other departments, for instance, Canadian Heritage, Tourism Canada. There was a protocol for dealing with the requests from these departments. I would have insisted that it be followed.

The program as it became later on, there was a program that became consolidated, my understanding is, at Public Works, but after I left, under Mr. Gagliano. So I can't speak to that because I can't tell you how that program worked. I was not there at the time.

The Chair: If I can interject and I will just read what I have now from the Deputy Minister's involvement. This is Mr. Quail speaking.

I'm not sure anybody told me not to get involved. I certainly got involved in the preparation of the submissions, the listing of the events, the amount of money that was required in totality and where we could find it to make it happen. When it came back into the department the money was delegated to CCSB and I then expected CCSB to carry out their work according to the rules and regulations for 
sponsoring events. 

That's in reference 7.1225 of Mr. Quail's testimony.

Sorry to interrupt.

Ms. Beth Phinney: Mr. Cotler said during the time he was there and we've had witnesses since that said even during 98-99 that they realized that there was the Department of Public Works and a little box on the side and in this little box who are people that were doing the activities that were to do more recently with sponsorship but before that other programs and they were in this little box. Were you aware that little box, that was sort outside? 

Hon. Diane Marleau: Well I'm aware of a program called APORS, which was in place when I was there, called Advertising Public Opinion Research, I'm aware of that. I'm also of the opinion that while I was there they were reporting through proper channels, I have not been told otherwise. That's all I can say. 

The new program, I think CCSB came into being after I left so I can't tell you how that particular program worked. I can just tell you that APORS was supposed to follow the rules in place, deal directly with the client, departments and do the proper contracting and the proper work. I would have insisted on it if I had known that it wasn't going, it wasn't happening.

Ms. Beth Phinney: Okay since you're suggesting that, you would expect them to be there doing their job as they should do it.

Hon. Diane Marleau: That's right, yes.

Ms. Beth Phinney: Sounding like that's not your job to tell them that, you just expected...who did...

Hon. Diane Marleau: I did...I did tell them to report through proper channels and when people report through proper channels the cheques and balances are normally in place to ensure that they are following the rules. 

I also while I was at Public Works, went through all of the signing authorities to make sure that the delegations of authorities were all reviewed and were proper. I mean these are the kinds of things that as a minister you can do. 

You can also give the message that you must operate in an open and transparent manner, which I did. And you can also show by example that that's the way you're going to operate.
* (1235) 
Ms. Beth Phinney: I only have so much time Madam Marleau. 

I just wonder, my next question you jumped on thinking I wasn't going to ask it or I was implying you were not doing a job, I wasn't imply that.

You said that they should be operating this way and you told them they should be operating this way.

This little box maybe it's APORS, if that's what it was called, who should have been checking what they were doing, that's what my next question would be?

Hon. Diane Marleau: Well to be honest with you, the head of APORS was a director. To tell you exactly who his immediate superior was, I'm not sure but he certainly would have had to report probably through a manager, then on through an associate deputy minister, the deputy minister on to me. That would be the normal way that people in a department would report. That would be in my experience the way it works. 

Normally at director level employee will not, will not come directly to the minister's office and work directly with the minister without the expressed permission of the deputy minister and whoever is his superior or her superior.

The Chair: Thank you. Miss Phinney would like you to keep your answers as brief and concise as possible but as a member of Parliament of course you know how impossible that is.

Ms. Beth Phinney: If the person reporting to you was Dan Quail...

Hon. Diane Marleau: No, Ran Quail, Reynold is his name.

Ms. Beth Phinney: Ran R A N, excuse me, Ran Quail, so what you're suggesting is that presumably he didn't know about this or if he did know he wasn't tell you about how this organization was working outside of the department.

Hon. Diane Marleau: I cannot guess about this, I cannot guess about this. My understanding is that he was doing what he was supposed to do as the deputy minister in running the department.

Ms. Beth Phinney: Have you got any suggestions to us and to running the government and how we can make sure that there can't be a whole group of people and a whole program taken out of a department and moved to the side and just one person with a staff maybe of 10 people running this and it doesn't get up, when it doesn't get across into the department.

Can you tell us what we could do, obviously the restrictions and the regulations that you passed down weren't enough, what can we put in there to make sure that doesn't happen again?

Hon. Diane Marleau: 
That's a very difficult question to answer. I'm a person who follows rules. If the rules don't work, I make new rules and I insist that people follow them.

If people don't follow the rules, when you find out about it, you do something about it. I can't tell you what to do to ensure in future that these kinds of things don't happen except to make sure that you have the rules in place and that ministers understand there's a certain protocol and a certain way of behaving. That's what you do.

It's very difficult for me to answer other than that.

Ms. Beth Phinney: What about doing some kind of audit that would go more deeply into the spending? There's been some suggestion that the auditors shouldn't be working within a department, that they should be sent into a department for a year, or something like that, for special audits, and not be employees of a department.

Hon. Diane Marleau: My understanding is that internal audits, by and large, are very effective. When the report of an internal audit comes in, the deputy minister would be advised, or the ADM, and then a decision would be made as to how to handle it and how to correct the problems. That's always been my experience in the past.

The Chair: Thank you very much, Ms. Phinney.

Ms. Wasylycia-Leis, please. Eight minutes.

Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis: Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.

I want to thank Mme Marleau for appearing before us today. Your testimony is very important for us because you can help us to make the linkages between testimony we've heard, and perhaps direct us to individuals to whom we should speak.

You were a minister at a critical time in the middle of this whole sponsorship fiasco, or file. You also held a couple of other portfolios with whom there are some linkages, and some individuals overlapping in those portfolios.

I want to start by asking you if, in fact, you could trace for us Roger Collet's relationship....
* (1240) 
Hon. Diane Marleau: I don't know that person exactly. I don't recall that name.

Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis: Roger Collet was the head of the Canada Information Office.

Hon. Diane Marleau: He would have worked at Heritage Canada.

Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis: Then he went to CMHC.

Hon. Diane Marleau: It could be. I don't recall the name. I'm sorry.

Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis: Then he was involved with les Jeux de la Francophonie. 
All of those areas you had something to do with. I'm just wondering if you couldn't give us some information about Roger Collet.

Hon. Diane Marleau: The name doesn't mean anything to me. I'm sorry. He may well have worked in those areas, but I don't recall the name per se. I don't recall ever having dealings with him. It doesn't mean I didn't, but I don't recall.

Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis: You don't recall in discussions with colleagues or in-caucus discussions in terms of Honourable Denis Coderre and his political assistant?

The Chair: I think that you can scratch the "in-caucus" part. Perhaps the rest of it is okay. But the caucus question is....

Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis: His name never came up in terms of....

Hon. Diane Marleau: No.

Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis: All right.

Hon. Diane Marleau: It's just not a name that I know.

Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis: You speak very highly of Ran Quail--

Hon. Diane Marleau: Yes.

Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis: --and you know from some of our testimony that we had a very frustrating experience with Mr. Quail. We can't say that he didn't tell the truth, but he answered questions in a way that clearly kept the truth from us. We found that, in terms of ministerial responsibility and what that means in terms of a deputy, he was lacking in many regards.

Why do you feel so strongly about him? Wouldn't you expect, since having worked with him, that he would answer more forthrightly and give us a clearer indication....

Hon. Diane Marleau: I watched his testimony, and I felt his frustration. That's about all I can say because I found him to be an extremely good deputy minister, extremely capable. I have nothing but good things to say about my time working with him. That's all I can say.

It's hard for me to tell you what happened after I left because I don't know.

Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis: Do you think that, since you've been a minister and you're held responsible for your department, your deputy minister is also responsible for whatever happens?

Hon. Diane Marleau: The deputy minister is held responsible by the Clerk of the Privy Council to administer the programs that are put under his direction in accordance with the minister he works with. It's a partnership. That's about as much as I can say otherwise.

I felt sorry when I heard his frustration during his appearance before the committee. That's all I can say.

Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis: I want to ask about this disturbing phenomenon that we're hearing about; ministers not really knowing about audits that are happening in their own departments. We're not taking action on those audits. We have the example, a request earlier about the 1996 audit vis-a-vis advertising and public opinion research. You were the minister at the time when that audit was begun.

Hon. Diane Marleau: Can I just say something here. I think I remember the audit going on, but I only think I remember. Since then, I've read the audit, I've heard about it in the press, and it's difficult for me to differentiate in my mind-did I really know everything about it then, or, have I just learned from it recently. That's always the problem when you have a witness comes forward after the fact and has, sort of, followed the story as it goes. I'm sitting there saying to myself, did I really know about it, I think I did. As I said, there were many very big files that I was dealing with when I was at Public Works. This would have been only one small one.

Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis: It just seems that there are so many times you hear about audits being done, and ministers are not executing their responsibilities, and, in fact, sort of covering up the results of these audits. I want to make the linkage here to your work as minister-
* (1245) 
Hon. Diane Marleau: I really resent that. I don't think ministers would cover up the results of audits. I think ministers would take action to deal with the results of audits. That's my recollection of any of these kinds of issues.

Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis: Okay. Let's not use the word, cover up, I think it's a matter of audits being done, finding wrongdoings, and then ministers not doing anything about that, and making the necessary changes. I want to come to another audit-

Hon. Diane Marleau: I'm sorry. You are making accusations that we don't know whether they did or not. They may well have made the necessary changes. I can't tell you for sure, I don't know. 

Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis: I guess we'll hear more testimony about that, later on. We have some evidence now to suggest that the 1996 audit in the advertising and public opinion research branch was basically disregarded, ignored, and nothing happened, otherwise, we might not be in the problem we are today. There is a similar incident in which you were involved pertaining to an audit in Health Canada, exactly the same situation where, in fact, wrongdoings are identified, you-

The Chair: How did we get over to Health Canada from here?

Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis: I want to get to that, Mr. Speaker.

I want to make two points. One is, the minister here is a link between two very similar scandals where, in fact, audits were done and ignored. It happened in Health Canada, and it happened in Public Works. Then, I want to raise the fact that the minister, leading into and leading out of these particular difficult positions, was the Hon. David Dingwall. My question was, whether or not the Minister today, Madam Marleau, felt that, in fact, she was brought in at times to sort of just paper over and be a-

The Chair: Okay. Ms. Wasylycia-Leis, when I interrupt you, please pay attention to the Chair. 

Your question regarding an audit at Health Canada, you are only drawing inferences and parallels, it has nothing to do with the investigation at hand. You don't have to answer that in any way, shape, or form, or make reference to it unless you want to. I'm sure you will speak to the papering over, I'm sure you will have something to say on that.

Ms. Marleau.

Hon. Diane Marleau: Mr. Chair, I've always been a very active Minister in whatever file I took over. At Health Canada, as you know, I was a great defender of the Canada Health Act, and did a number of things there. I certainly have nothing to be ashamed of in any department that I was. You heard me recite some of the things that I did in the year, and a few months, that I was at Public Works. That's just a very few of the things that I was involved in. I'm very proud of what I did as a Minister. I certainly didn't paper over anything. I certainly did the job that I was given to do. 

The Chair: Thank you very much, Ms. Wasylycia-Leis. 

I'm cognizant of the time. The meeting ends at 1 o'clock. We've had one round. 
I would like to introduce our forensic auditor, question. The question I have for the committee is, would we like Ms. Marleau to come back again, or do we discharge the witness? How do you feel?

Mr. Vic Toews: Mr. Chair, I certainly have more questions to ask of the minister. Her testimony has certainly piqued my curiosity in respect of a number of matters and as a minister of the crown that was responsible for the department where we saw the growth of this problem, I think the few minutes that we've had simply is not enough. I would prefer that we call her back--reserve the right to call her back, sorry.

The Chair: It is appropriate that we do feel that the questions are answered and we're going to put you down for an hour to return.
Would one hour be sufficient?

Mr. Vic Toews: I think so. On the basis of what I've heard here today an hour would be sufficient.

The Chair: Okay, you can expect to be called back for an hour, Ms. Marleau, at a later date to continue on. You don't have to make another opening statement. We'll just continue on with the questions.

I basically have one question of my own. Again, this is dealing with the sponsorship program, the communications, Groupaction, Lafleur Communications, Media IDA Vision and all of these advertising agencies. When you moved on to another department, are you aware of any connections between your subsequent ministries and anything going on, any work being done with these organizations?
* (1250) 
Hon. Diane Marleau: I don't recall definitely anything. I'm sure there was work being done but I can't recall definite instances.

The Chair: Okay.

Thank you again. You are discharged for the moment. We'll call you back. There's no need for you to stay.

I am going to introduce to the committee Mr. Paul Levine, a partner from KPMG Forensic from Montreal, Quebec. I would ask Mr. Levine to tell the committee how he can assist us in our work.
Mr. Levine, please.

Paul Levine (Committee Researcher): Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. It's a pleasure to be here. My name is Paul Levine. I'm a partner with KPMG in the Montreal office. I'm a partner in forensic and investigative accounting.
KPMG has just recently been engaged by the Library of Parliament to assist the Standing Committee on Public Accounts with the various tasks that are before the committee. We'll be providing assistance as an active member of the team, helping the researchers, helping the clerks, the chair and various other members in terms of analyzing documentation, reviewing the documentation, preparing for the appearance of witnesses and planning as well. We plan to be here as an active member of the team and, in all manners possible, to assist in analyzing, linking the different data and preparing for testimonies.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Levine. As you pointed out, you are working for the committee and I think that it's appropriate that any member of the committee be able to freely contact you. Members will get the coordinates from Mr. Levine and his assistants, who I introduced the other day.

In the interests of non-partisanship, not that I suggest that you divulge every detail of a conversation, but if you are giving a clear line of evidence to some person you have to make sure that it's available to all the people, that you don't in essence become the staff researcher for one MP on the committee, that all MPs know that if he is going down a certain line of investigation on your behalf that he has an obligation to share that with other members so that we do operate in a spirit of non-partisanship as far as the investigation--but you certainly don't have to report word for word. The intent of what I'm saying is, you understand, that we rely on your professionalism, which we know is there.

Mr. Toews, you had something to say.

Mr. Vic Toews: Thank you. It's along the lines of what you said. You said the first half. 

The second half is, given Mr. Levine's professional expertise as an auditor, he may recognize things that people of my limited skills simply don't have the ability to recognize. It isn't apparent to someone like me, so I would encourage you and your staff to feel free to point out issues and develop those issues for our consideration.

Mr. Walsh and the parliamentary staff have been very good in that respect. I appreciate that and I certainly hope you continue along that line.

Welcome aboard.

Paul Levine: Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you.

Mr. Lastewka.

Hon. Walt Lastewka (St. Catharines, Lib.): Mr. Chairman, I just would like to get a better understanding here. Has any direction been given to team players now to look at?

The Chair: Not at this point in time. They're still trying to amass and understand and read all the data that has come to the committee. They have not been given any specific direction to go in any specific way. 

Mr. O'Neal has got something to say on this issue.

Mr. Brian O'Neal (Committee Researcher): Yes, Mr. Chairman. I will be extracting the portions of the contract that lay out the scope of work that the forensic auditors will be asked to do and sending an extract of that to committee members so they will have a clear idea of what their duties will be.

The Chair: And feel free, any member of the committee can contact the auditors, but knowing full well that they have an obligation to share information with other members so that they don't become working for any particular member. That's quite important. You're here to assist. We will develop a plan with you, but we're looking for your guidance to come forward to us.

Madame Jennings, you have a point?
* (1255) 

Mrs. Marlene Jennings: Yes. This does not have to do with the assistance that we'll be receiving from the Auditor General, it has to do with the motion that was adopted--

The Chair: Auditor General?

Mrs. Marlene Jennings: Sorry, with the forensic auditors, it has to do with the motion that was adopted unanimously to hold two days of hearings, Tuesday, April 13 and Wednesday, April 14, and that on April 14 our researchers and clerk, but it would be primarily the researchers, provide us with a submission for a first report. I think that we need to provide some guidance to our researchers as to what needs to be in the report because it's not the summaries of evidence, it's an actual first draft.

The Chair: Okay. We've got all that on the record.

This meeting is now adjourned.

Check out these related links:

arrow-trans.gif (111 bytes) Public Accounts Sponsorship Hearings (Updated Mar. 23)

© PoliticsWatch 2004. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PoliticsWatch content, including by framing, copying, linking or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Public Interests Research and Communications Inc. PoliticsWatch is registered trademark of PIRCINC.



PoliticsWatch Home  |  Political News   |  Voter Resources  |  Research Base

PoliticsWatch® | Canada's Political Portal™
PoliticsWatch is a registered trademark of Public Interests Research and Communications Inc.
© 2003 Public Interests Research and Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
1502 - 85 Albert  Street, Ottawa ON K1A 6P2 |  613.232.0516 | news@politicswatch.com  |
Terms of Service, Copyright, Trademarks, and Disclaimers Statement.