Is Honourable Jane Stewart lying over the bungled $1-billion jobs programs?

By Mario deSantis, February 15, 2000

legal recourse
is provided for the retraction
of these statements
Early last week, in a news report, Jim Melenchuk, Saskatchewan Minister of Education, was quoted saying "..If former Progressive Conservative MLA Bill Boyd was serious about helping farmers, he would put up his $10-million Tory Trust Fund to show he is sincere..." This Tory Trust Fund was linked to the criminal prosecution of a number of previous MLA conservatives, however, when the Saskatchewan Party was formed in 1997 it stated that it had no plan to touch this money. Therefore, as MLA Bill Boyd came to know of Melenchuk's statement his lawyer wrote a letter to Melenchuk demanding an immediate retraction of this statement. Melenchuk retracted the statement in the following news release and later stated "it was just a simple mistake." So, when public statements are made and they are not true and damaging to the reputation of people then a legal recourse is provided for the retraction of these statements and eventual other remedies.
I have no reservation
in saying
she lied.
Last week, Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe accused Human Resources Minister Jane Stewart of lying in the House of Commons over the bungled $1 billion programs. Duceppe has been the first opposition member of parliament (MP) to publicly call Stewart a liar and that happened outside the House of Commons without the libel protection MPs enjoy while speaking inside the House. So far, Stewart has not demanded a retraction of Duceppe's derogatory statement that she was lying in the House of Commons. Has Stewart been lying in the House of Commons or outside it? Well, I am so disillusioned about the integrity of our political leadership that I have no reservation in saying she lied.
values of
trust and integrity
However, you can make up your own mind and in this respect I am going to provide a short list of some facts indicating that Stewart has not been sincere in the handling of the $1 billion grants scandal. The purpose of uncovering the misleading behaviour of Stewart is to continue with our efforts to support a new political leadership where the values of trust and integrity are restored and where common sense democracy is practised.
master list
--Ms. Stewart has maintained that there is not a master list documenting the grants by riding, however Jean Chretien, Prime Minister, was able to provide this information for the opposition ridings from files contained in a binder held by Don Boudria, the Government House Leader. Also, last year the National Post was able to obtain a list of grants by riding.
How much
--On February 10 Ms Stewart was questioned by the Human Resources Committee. Reform MP Ablonczy asked Stewart the question "How much of the $1-billion was paid out in overpayments and advances?" Ms. Stewart replied "From the report that we have, we have identified that our administrative practices have to be improved..."
--Ms Stewart has consistently stated that the first time she heard of the internal audit of 459 projects was November 17, 1999 when she received a full report on this internal audit. However, there is evidence that her office was aware that her department was having serious administrative problems prior to November 17. A senior official of the HRDC has stated "...she did get briefed on specific programs... it was about what we are doing to try to fix things..." An interim report of the audit was completed in May last year and HRDC officials informed Mel Cappe of this interim report. Mel Cappe is the former deputy minister at HRDC, and the Clerk of the Privy Council, the country's highest-ranking civil servant who answers directly to Jean Chretien, the Prime Minister.
--Ms. Stewart revealed the existence of the internal audit on January 19 and she has subsequently stated that the Reform's request for the disclosure of the audit was submitted two days later on January 21. Reform has produced a copy of the above mentioned request for disclosure which was delivered by courier on January 17.
told to co-operate
--Many Members of Parliament (MP) have accused Ms. Stewart of making "false" and "not true" statements to Parliament when she said that HRDC officials in all ridings had been told to co-operate with opposition MPs seeking information on the grants. Gilles Duceppe, the BQ leader, and Michel Gauthier, the house leader, said they called HRDC officials in their ridings and were referred to the minister's office in Ottawa.
  Melenchuk issues apology after linking MLA to PC fund, James Parker, The StarPhoenix, February 12, 2000
  A summary of the review of 459 grants at HRDC, by Mario deSantis, February 13, 2000
  Rot may have spread to 3,000 grants, by Luiza Chwialkowska, National Post, February 11, 2000
  Stewart stonewalls her fellowMPs. Minister refuses to release list of job grants by riding, by Robert Fife, Ottawa Bureau Chief, National Post, February 11, 2000
  A simple question, no simple answer, by Paul Wells, National Post, February 11, 2000
  Bloc leader says Stewart is lying, by Tim Naumetz, for Southam Newspapers, February 11, 2000, National Post
  Stewart deflects charge that she lied to Parliament: Another raucous day, by Robert Fife, Ottawa Bureau Chief, National Post, February 12, 2000
  Stewart knew in July HRDC needed 'fix', Robert Fife, Ottawa Bureau Chief, National Post, February 14, 2000