Hon. Jack Layton (Toronto—Danforth, NDP): Mr. Speaker, today we are going to face two important budget votes. People care about these votes a great deal because they have the potential to help people and to help our environment.
What people are hearing about is Tory MPs raising the issue of patronage jobs. They are hearing responses that the Prime Minister's Office is playing games with public appointments. This does not rebuild faith in politics and if it in any way endangers the vote on the budget, this will have serious consequences. Can the Prime Minister assure us that there has been no offer of public jobs for a change in votes?
Right Hon. Paul Martin (Prime Minister, Lib.): Yes, I can, Mr. Speaker. I am pleased to inform the House and the leader of the NDP that no such offers were made. I made it very clear the other day that no such offers were made. No such offers were made. Offers were solicited and offers were turned down.
Hon. Jack Layton (Toronto—Danforth, NDP): Mr. Speaker, we are about to vote on a very important budget. It is a better budget. I appreciate the answer, but I have to say if no public jobs were offered, the Prime Minister needs to explain now in the House why senior officials from his office are on tape speaking about the dangers of there being an explicit trade of jobs for votes.
What is the Prime Minister's explanation?
Right Hon. Paul Martin (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, a third party intermediary has confirmed that in fact a solicitation did come from a member of the opposition to a member of the government and that the solicitation was refused unequivocally.