House of Commons Hansard #68 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Herb Gray Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Debates of this House will show that at least one Reform member of the two who spoke mentioned Mr. Landry personally and accused him of breaching the privileges of this House. I this is an unwarranted and unproven slur on a very distinguished Canadian. Before this House adjourns, the Reform members should not only withdraw their point of privilege, they should apologize to Mr. Landry.

To sum up, not only have Reform Party members made unwarranted and unjustified accusations without proof against a distinguished Canadian, but in making those accusations they are attempting to raise a point of privilege which is not supported by the facts, in particular the language of the press release.

We are talking about something that had already been mentioned in the Speech from the Throne and mentioned again in the budget speech, which at the end and the beginning was based on a ways and means motion.

I say, Mr. Speaker, that the Reform Party has not provided a prima facie case for a point of privilege. I respectfully invite you to totally reject its unwarranted requests.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:30 p.m.

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Calgary—Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out that what the government is doing is, having brought Mr. Landry into this mess, trying to hide behind him—

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:30 p.m.

The Speaker

On the same point of privilege I will go to the hon. member for Qu'Appelle.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Lorne Nystrom Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, I want to make two brief points. I support the member who raised the point of privilege for the following reason.

The press release that was quoted by the two ministers across the way said that the fund will be managed, in terms of the fund will be there, and that Mr. Landry will be the chair of that particular fund. What they are doing is anticipating what Parliament may or may not do.

That is the basic point of the privilege. They are expecting Parliament to rubber stamp a ways and means motion, rubber stamp a statement by a cabinet minister. That is not what Parliament is about. We are the representatives of the people and we make that decision. They cannot anticipate that Parliament will agree with their particular bill. Therefore I think it is a genuine point of privilege.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:30 p.m.

Independent

John Nunziata York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, this House either means something or it does not.

The reason why the Prime Minister's office put out a press release was to inform Canadians of a fact, that Mr. Landry was appointed or accepted the invitation to head the foundation. As a result of that press release the Toronto Star ran an article in today's paper. The headline of that article is “Chrysler chief to run scholarships”. The sub-headline is “No bias for high-tech training, Landry says”. This is the information that those who read the Toronto Star are receiving.

That assumes that the announcement made by the Minister of Finance will in fact become law. Not only has legislation not been presented in this House, we do not know the nature of the legislation. This House might decide, for whatever reason, that instead of having a foundation to dispense the millennium fund, it might choose another mechanism. By inviting Mr. Landry to be the head of the foundation, they are in effect assuming that this Parliament will ratify and endorse whatever the plan is for this foundation.

As a member of Parliament, I have not seen the legislation. I do not know how many members will be on this board. I do not know what the provisions are with respect to the head of the foundation.

Not only is this action a contempt of this Parliament, it is also a contempt of the Senate. While the Prime Minister and his majority might be able to make an assumption that they could in effect pass legislation through this House, they cannot assume that the Senate down the way will also give its endorsation to identical legislation.

At the very least, the invitation was premature. The government should recognize that the invitation was premature. If it has any confidence in the integrity of this House, that invitation should be withdrawn pending the passage of that legislation in this House and in the Senate.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:35 p.m.

The Speaker

My colleagues, I intend to take the information from both sides into consideration. The hon. House leader has said that he would table this press release. I would like that to be tabled.

The hon. member over here has an article from the Toronto Star and I would like to see that article, please.

I will take this information into consideration and I will study it. I will come back to the House at an early future date.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:35 p.m.

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Calgary—Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have a copy of the news release that named Mr. Landry to this position and I would be happy to provide that to you.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:35 p.m.

The Speaker

I would like that information and I order the page to bring it forth to the House. I want to let this point of privilege sit until I get back to the House with my decision.

I am now going to points of order.

The first point of order I will hear comes from the hon. member for Roberval.

Point Of Order
Oral Question Period

February 26th, 1998 / 3:35 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have eleven years of legislative experience, first seven years in the Quebec National Assembly and now four here in the House of Commons.

In all those years I, like many others here, have been a fighter. The political arena is here. This is the place where the people speak. The political game dictates that we face each other in accordance with certain rules.

During my political career, I have seen members break those rules. I have seen speakers bring down rulings and they were always justified, as their purpose was to enhance the quality of debate in the home of democracy.

It is, therefore, with great sorrow that I rise on this point of order. Never, in all my years as a parliamentarian, have I seen members of this Parliament, the Quebec National Assembly or any self-respecting Parliament show such disrespect to the flag of their country, using it in a demonstration aimed at causing disorder, preventing someone from exercising the right to speak, and disregarding the Speaker's orders.

Point Of Order
Oral Question Period

3:35 p.m.

An hon. member

The lack of respect is on your side.

Point Of Order
Oral Question Period

3:35 p.m.

An hon. member

Oh, shut up.

Point Of Order
Oral Question Period

3:35 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, it would be a good idea for all of the members of this House to listen, because if this House functions smoothly, if it is viable for you there, for them over there, and for us—and if anyone has not understood it yet, the veterans here can explain it to them—it is because the House leaders speak to each other, co-operate with each other, trust each other. It is because the House leaders, above and beyond differences of political opinion, first and foremost respect democratic values, the forum for debate Parliament represents, and the rules that govern it.

I have always given that co-operation, and am often the one who initiates compromises to make things run more smoothly in this House. For instance, this evening we are finishing earlier to accommodate colleagues who are not of my political persuasion. We are always pleased to oblige, since democratic debate must be carried out in the most correct, most comfortable, most respectful way possible. But that could change.

This is why I am asking members of this House to listen to my point of order, because we can never again let the flag be used to protest or to disrupt the proceedings in this place.

This morning, the Chair issued a ruling prohibiting members from using the flag as a tool of protest inside the House of Commons and allowed the hon. member for Rimouski—Mitis to take the floor.

My colleague is fully entitled to rise in this House, like any other member of this place. Liberal members will not change that, at least as long as I am parliamentary leader on this side of the House.

Four years ago, when we arrived here as sovereignists, everyone said we would show no respect for the House of Commons. Yet, if there is a political party that always listens to the Chair, that always co-operates with the Clerks-at-the-Table and with parliamentary leaders, it is the Bloc Quebecois. In spite of our diverging views, we have always done our work with dignity, by defending our ideas, and not by doing stupid and inappropriate things like those we have seen today.

Never will we tolerate again people using the national anthem in this House, during Oral Question Priod, to ridicule the proceedings of this place, or one of our colleagues, or the national anthem itself. It was quite something to see these great Canadians, who boast about the flag every day, use it as a mere tool of protest. It was quite something to see these great Canadians use the national anthem to disrupt the proceedings of the House of Commons. They must step aside.

In conclusion, I will tell you this—

Point Of Order
Oral Question Period

3:40 p.m.

The Speaker

Colleagues, in many of our debates we go not only to the heart of the matter but we go to the hearts of one another. I remind all of us here of the following.

I remind all members of this House that we are members of Canada's Parliament. This means we were all elected by Canadians across the country.

That is one thing about which there is no doubt.

When members of Parliament stand in this place, they stand among us as equals. It does not matter what province they come from, it does not matter what region they come from. You have elected me to see that you are respected and indeed that you respect yourselves and the rules of this House.

We have a Canadian member of Parliament on his feet. We are going to hear what he has to say. We do not have to agree with it but he is elected like every one of us in this House. I am going to hear what my hon. colleague from Roberval has to say. The hon. member for Roberval.

Point Of Order
Oral Question Period

3:45 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This is the kind of ruling that has earned you the respect of all members and got you re-elected as Speaker.

Indeed, Parliament is the last place where people can talk to one another. The day Parliament goes silent, the country ceases to exist. And so does democracy.

My point was, and I will conclude on that: if our co-operation is expected in this House, never again will we tolerate that our national anthem or flag be used in the middle of question period or any debate to prevent a member of the Bloc Quebecois or any other member of this House from speaking.

In closing, I hope that the media will report to all Quebeckers and Canadians the behaviour they witnessed here today, on both sides of the House, unfortunately. I hope Canadians will see what happened. I hope Quebeckers will as well, as they will think “How arrogant these people are. And, just yesterday, they came to Quebec to tell us how much they loved us”.

Point Of Order
Oral Question Period

3:45 p.m.

The Speaker

Colleagues, there is a point of order. I do not want to get into a debate on wrongs that took place. Colleagues, we heard from the hon. member for Roberval. We are parliamentarians of Canada. We can hear each other. I will listen to all of you.