House of Commons Hansard #115 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was heritage.

Topics

Crtc
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gaston Leroux Richmond—Wolfe, QC

Mr. Speaker, in his letter on ministerial letterhead, the minister goes even further, offering to provide the CRTC personally with additional information on the licence application.

Has the Prime Minister really read this letter, and if so, how can he not conclude that the CRTC would assume that he was writing in his capacity as minister?

Crtc
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the minister should have used the letterhead he keeps for his correspondence as the member for Laval West, just as I could use a letterhead identifying myself as the member for Saint-Maurice. But everyone knows very well that Jean Chrétien is the Prime Minister, and if I used a different letterhead, people would perhaps find it a bit ridiculous.

I did indeed read the original letter and the letter of explanation. It was an honest mistake on the part of the minister and he took corrective action himself without any pressure from anyone. Under the circumstances, I think that it is my responsibility to declare the matter closed at this point.

I consulted the government's ethics counsellor and one I appointed myself, and both confirmed that I had made the right decision in this matter.

Crtc
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Jan Brown Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

The CRTC received two applications for a 24-hour Greek language specialty service to be played on radio. The first is by CHOM from Montreal and the second was by a Mr. Daniilidis in Telemedia.

On May 5 of this year the CRTC rejected the CHOM application. On March 15 the Minister of Canadian Heritage intervened by sending a letter of support for the application of Mr. Daniilidis.

The minister's intervention supporting the second application came prior to the rejection of the first application. How can the minister deny that his intervention did not influence the CRTC decision?

Crtc
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Laval West
Québec

Liberal

Michel Dupuy Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, the letter I sent to the CRTC was the letter of an MP designed to ensure that a constituent received due process.

I attach great importance to my role as a member of Parliament. I am sure that my colleague feels the same way when she has constituents coming to visit her constituency office. She takes account of what they are requesting.

Crtc
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Jan Brown Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, the issue is clear and the minister did not answer my question.

My supplemental is for the Prime Minister. The Minister of Canadian Heritage has stated in the House that the CRTC is a quasi-judicial agency and that the Canadian government, including the Minister of Canadian Heritage, should not interfere in the process.

His current action is an obvious and flagrant breach of the judicial principle. Will the Prime Minister now demand the resignation of his minister?

Crtc
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I said earlier that I would look into the matter very carefully. I have consulted those who have responsibility in the matter.

The minister made an honest error. He corrected it immediately without any pressure. It is one of those things. Every member of the cabinet is confronted with the same problem. Some constituents write to me about problems in every department and I have a responsibility over every department. I send requests to ministers and ask that they be looked into. It is part of my job as the member of Parliament for Saint-Maurice.

In this case, I concluded after consultation, as explained to the House, that there was no need for a resignation.

Crtc
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister, who has told us repeatedly over the past year that he attaches the utmost importance to the integrity of his ministers, is now turning a blind eye to a very serious mistake on the part of the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

How can the Prime Minister be taken seriously when, at the first opportunity to come his way, in view of such a serious mistake, he chooses to forgive and forget rather than enforce his code of ethics? Clearly, the Prime Minister is not equal to the situation.

Crtc
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I said that I had consulted the government's ethics counsellor who told me that the minister had been careless but had taken corrective action himself as soon as he realized that sending the letter was being construed as interference. It was put in very clear terms. Under the circumstances, I accepted this piece of advice as well as the explanation provided by the minister. I believe that he has done his job as a member of Parliament.

Some people say that MPs who do not do their job as MPs should be relieved of their duties. I find it somewhat surprising that a member who insists that MPs should do their job would expect MPs who are ministers as well not to do their job as MPs.

Crtc
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister hides behind the advice of his advisors. But they are not the ones who have been elected. He should assume his responsibilities.

Are we to understand from the decision of the Prime Minister of Canada that he puts personal friendship above the integrity of his Cabinet?

Crtc
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I take full responsibility for this decision. Never did I attempt to evade my responsibilities in making this decision. In response to a question, I said that I could have not requested any advice, but chose to do so and was told that, under the circumstances, it was totally acceptable, and I take full responsibility for that.

Again, I find it somewhat surprising to hear the Bloc Quebecois come here and talk about integrity when employees are blackmailed by its parent organization to retain their jobs. What is going on in Quebec City is a disgrace. It is embarrassing!

Crtc
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, first we hear the Prime Minister say that he was making a representation as an ordinary MP. Then in the next breath the Prime Minister said: "Well, it was an honest mistake".

We want the true answer to this. Was it representation or was it a mistake?

Crtc
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

The Speaker

Order. We must presume that our word will be taken at face value in this House. I do not know that the truth should be questioned like that. Perhaps the hon. member could rephrase the question.

Crtc
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Canadian Heritage claims that he wrote the letter to the CRTC on behalf of a constituent to ensure that he received "a fair hearing and due consideration".

He also claims he had absolutely no intention of influencing the CRTC. Does the minister have any reason to believe that the CRTC would not give his application a fair hearing and due consideration unless he personally wrote them a letter?

Crtc
Oral Question Period

October 27th, 1994 / 2:35 p.m.

Laval West
Québec

Liberal

Michel Dupuy Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I have the fullest confidence in the CRTC. The CRTC is an arm's length agency, which I respect, as I stated in this House on several occasions when some members of the

opposition were suggesting that I should interfere in its operations.

When there was an indication that the letter I sent could lend itself to misinterpretation, I quickly made arrangements through a second letter to make sure the original meaning was understood.

Crtc
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, this gives new meaning to the phrase "the six month's hoist". Improper ministerial influence is apparent when only one application to the CRTC is favoured with a personal introduction by the Minister of Canadian Heritage on ministerial letterhead.

This morning the minister said that he "never for a moment had any hesitation or misunderstanding about my role or responsibilities as a minister".

If that is the case then he knowingly and grossly violated that understanding by favouring this application. For his incompetence and his incredible lack of judgment, will this minister resign?