Upcoming Visit of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Hon. Jim Munson: Honourable senators, I have a supplementary question for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Would the minister be able to supply us with the list of senators who have been invited to dine with the Queen or attend any reception with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth?
Senator LeBreton: Unfortunately, honourable senators, I cannot. These events are being coordinated between officials of Buckingham Palace and Government House. The only event that I know of is one that I have personally been invited to, and I have been invited along with the Leader of the Opposition, Senator Cowan, and his wife.
Senator Fox: Congratulations.
Senator Munson: Could the minister give us a list of Conservative senators who have been invited to dine or to attend receptions with her Majesty the Queen?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, this is the second time that I have had to admit this, and I regret that I have to do this, but I do not have a clue who has been invited. I have not been involved in any of the invitation lists. I do know that I was invited to one event, as was the Leader of the Opposition.
Senator Munson: Does anyone talk to you from the Prime Minister’s Office?
Senator LeBreton: Absolutely not.
Senator Munson: Does anyone from the Prime Minister’s Office consult you?
Senator LeBreton: Absolutely not, nor would I expect that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II would consult me about anything.
Hon. Jim Munson: Honourable senators, there is obviously a chill in the air. I asked these questions a couple of weeks ago. Many of these groups met with my honourable colleagues in the other place, Ken Dryden and Anita Neville. The groups hosted a round table on the importance of the “public voice.” Representatives from 16 organizations, including the Canadian Council for International Co-operation and Oxfam, voiced their concerns on Monday over proposed cuts and the delay in budgetary processes. They say these cuts and delays are due to their criticism of this Conservative government. The affected groups spoke of the impact felt by their organizations and, most important, the people they serve. One project on the Conservatives’ chopping block was to have helped 600 families in Ghana.
Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell us when the Harper Conservatives will cease imposing these punishing cuts on their critics?
Senator LeBreton: I cannot answer the honourable senator’s question because the statement he made is not correct. I cannot answer a question that has no validity.
Senator Munson should know that we have increased aid funding. We can always find people on all sides of every issue. We will always find groups that perhaps have received funding and did not receive the amount of funding they thought they should have. I note that the honourable senator did not mention the many other groups that did receive funding.
This course of events is normal for any funding project of any government, no matter what stripe. We will always find people who are upset that their project was not funded, when the project across the street was funded. This is the reality. The premise of the honourable senator’s question is flat-out false.
Senator Munson: Honourable senators, these organizations are not fringe groups; they are NGOs. The leader talked about groups. This issue is a classic wedge issue used to divide. These NGOs are not fringe groups. They have validity.
Mr. Gerry Barr, President of the Canadian Council for International Co-operation, concluded at Monday’s round table: “The message is: Be careful what you say, the price you pay will be high.”
Considering the government just spent $1.9 million on the infamous fake lake media centre for the upcoming G20 meeting, how can the leader justify not renewing the $1.7 million funding for the Canadian Council for International Co-operation?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, the particular individual mentioned has a point of view. I do not know who hosted the round table. I have my suspicions, but the fact is, many of these organizations that have applied for funding have received their funding, many have not. We have increased funding to many organizations.
Senator Munson mentioned the pavilion that is being planned for the G8 and G20 summits and I ask if he was working for Prime Minister Chrétien when the APEC summit took place in Vancouver? There are many pictures of leaders standing in front of a lake, and guess what honourable senators? It was a fake lake.
An Hon. Senator: Say it ain’t so!
Senator Munson: Just reflecting on your answers, most of them are fake as well.
Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh!
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, all of the years that Senator Munson was involved in the media, and then especially where he ended up, I am not surprised at all by that weak response.