House of Commons Hansard #10 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was farmers.

Topics

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

I am looking at a few more statements on a question of privilege. I would ask the hon. member who brought forth the question of privilege or contempt to be very concise in what she will say.

The reason I say this is that I do not want to get into a back and forth debate. I realize, and I can say this, the hon. member was not here the other day through no fault of her own when the government House leader made his statement. That is why I am permitting the hon. member to intervene now, but I would ask her to be very precise in what she has to say.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Reform

Val Meredith South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to respond to the comments of the government House leader of Thursday, October 21, 1999, concerning my question of privilege.

Most of the comments of the government House leader in arguing that this was not a question of privilege concerned the CSIS answer to Question No. 36 on Document No. 17.

I wish the government House leader had read further in my submission of documents. If he had he would have seen document 20 which shows that in responding to question 36, CSIS provided an inaccurate answer by not mentioning the 107 press releases, newspaper clippings, and radio and television transcripts as part of the material that CSIS forwarded to the plaintiff.

At document 21, in responding to question 36, CSIS claims that videotapes were passed to the plaintiff in response to a request from him. Yet in the plaintiff's own sworn testimony he stated “They were provided to me without my asking”.

At document 22, in responding to question 36, CSIS claims that it provided only one CSIS policy document to the plaintiff. Yet in the very affidavit that CSIS was being cross-examined on it listed five separate policy documents.

In this one answer CSIS has provided three separate inaccurate responses, yet the government House leader would have us accept this very same answer as the authority that CSIS did nothing wrong.

On the topic of collection of information by investigative bodies, I would like to bring the following to the attention of the House. Beauchesne's 6th edition, citation 98, states in part:

Members have raised, as a matter of privilege, the question of police files being maintained on members.

The Speaker refused to recognize these as questions of privilege unless the charge was specific and unless the dossier referred to the individual as a member of parliament rather than as an ordinary citizen.

My circumstances are certainly specific. Not only are we aware—

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. I would like to hear what the hon. member has to say.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Reform

Val Meredith South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, not only are we aware that CSIS collected my press releases but also newspaper clippings, radio and television transcripts of my comments. I have provided the House with a list of 107 such documents that CSIS collected. It is also clear that every one of those documents referred to me in my role as a member of parliament, not as an ordinary citizen.

In 1971 in the House the then solicitor general mentioned that the RCMP held files on some members of parliament. A question of privilege was raised by Ged Baldwin, the member for Peace River. Speaker Lamoureux ruled on April 20, 1971, as reported in Hansard at pages 5071-2, that:

—it would be imprudent of the Chair to project the question of police files beyond the circumstances or conditions raised by the...member and beyond the particular circumstances alluded to by the minister in his reply.

However, he went on to state that the matter was very serious and if any special circumstances were brought to the attention of the House and the Chair to the effect that members were in some way intimidated in their work or prevented from discharging their duties freely and without hindrance, there would be no hesitation in recognizing the matter as a breach of privilege.

I contend that the circumstances in my case are exactly the type of special circumstances to which Speaker Lamoureux referred. I remind the Chair that when that incident took place CSIS did not exist but was in fact the RCMP security service.

Thus I suggest that there is precedent that the mere collection of information by the police or similar agency is sufficient to find a breach of privilege. However in my case there is so much more.

In his comments the government House leader stated that the CSIS disclosure of information was not improper. He made no reference to section 19 of the CSIS act which is found at document 9 and specifically prohibits unauthorized disclosure.

He also failed to refer to section 3.7 of the chapter on conduct in the CSIS human resources policy manual, which is document 10 and states:

Employees must not support or oppose any person, organization or product by using information obtained through their employment by the Service, except when authorized by the Director.

The government House leader did not even attempt to defend the CSIS abandonment of the non-partisan role of the public service by taking an active role in the preparation of a lawsuit against a member of parliament, including having its legal counsel provide the plaintiff and the plaintiff lawyer with advice.

Nor did he attempt to defend CSIS for its efforts to frustrate my ability to resolve the lawsuit by misusing its extraordinary authority to protect national security and by being twice sanctioned by the federal court for misconduct and deliberately misleading the court.

Instead the government House leader says I should take my complaint to the Security Intelligence Review Committee just like any other Canadian. However in my role as a member of parliament I am not just like any other Canadian. Members of this House and the House of Commons in Great Britain have for centuries recognized the need for members of the House to protect their rights and privileges if they are to carry out their duties in an effective manner.

Speaker Sauvé confirmed the need for such protection in 1983 when she found that there was a prima facie question of privilege when a newspaper accused a member of a criminal offence. The parallel to this case is that there was another avenue open to that member, namely the courts, and in my case the government House leader is suggesting that I have SIRC available to me.

In her decision of March 22, 1983, as reported in Hansard at pages 24027-8, Speaker Sauvé found that the authorities and precedents agreed that even though a member can seek remedy in the courts “he cannot function effectively as a member while this slur upon his reputation remains”. Since there is no way of knowing how long litigation would take, the member must be allowed to re-establish his reputation as speedily as possible by referring the matter to the Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections.

While I do indeed have the right to complain to SIRC, it is more important for myself, all my colleagues in the House and those who follow us that we make a clear statement in defence of our rights and privileges as members of parliament. If we are to follow the advice of the government House leader then we are abrogating our responsibilities and abilities to protect our rights and privileges. Thus there is absolutely no reason why we should feel compelled to defer the protection of our rights and privileges to an outside body.

I believe the defence of our rights and privileges can only be accomplished with your finding a prima facie case of privilege and/or contempt, Mr. Speaker, and I urge you to do so.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

I thank the hon. member. Now I will deliberate on all the facts that have been put before me and I will come back to the House.

Food And Drugs Act
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-260, an act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (warning labels regarding the consumption of alcohol).

Mr. Speaker, this bill was first introduced to parliament and continues to be before parliament since June 20, 1995.

The bill seeks to establish a requirement to have health warning labels placed on the containers of alcoholic beverages to caution expectant mothers and others of the risks associated with alcohol consumption. Alcohol is the only consumer product in Canada which can hurt if misused and does not warn the consumer of that fact.

I am pleased to reintroduce the bill and I seek the support of all members for this important health initiative.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Members Of Parliament Superannuation Act
Routine Proceedings

October 25th, 1999 / 3:15 p.m.

Reform

Jim Gouk West Kootenay—Okanagan, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-261, an act to discontinue the retiring allowances payable to members of parliament under the Members of Parliament Retiring Allowances Act and to include members of parliament in the Public Service Superannuation Act and to discontinue members' tax free allowances for expenses and include the amount in members' sessional allowances.

Mr. Speaker, although the timing is accidental, it is probably a good time to reintroduce my private member's bill dealing with pensions. The bill has two simple parts.

The first part is to implement the Blais commission recommendation to discontinue the tax free allowance, grossing it and taxing it as regular salary. Members of parliament will be taxed like all other Canadians and will feel the impact of any tax changes.

The second part is to eliminate the MP pension plan in its entirety and to enrol all MPs into the superannuation program so they too will be affected by whatever changes in legislation affect that. Members of parliament would have the same pension as all civil servants including their own staff. I believe that is a fair and equitable way to end the controversy on this once and for all.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Criminal Code
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-262, an act to amend the Criminal Code (impaired driving causing death or injury).

Mr. Speaker, this is a practical change that would affect the ability of police officers to gather samples of blood at an accident scene. It could be used in the prosecution of impaired driving cases before the courts. This is a very practical change. It would empower police officers to deal with the very serious and increasingly dangerous situation that exists on the roads and highways of this country.

I would encourage all members of parliament to consider supporting this private member's bill.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Scarborough—Rouge River
Ontario

Liberal

Derek Lee Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, if the House gives its consent, I move that the third report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs presented to the House on Friday, October 22, 1999 be concurred in.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is there unanimous consent to proceed with the motion at this time?

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

Points Of Order
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, earlier I tabled a private member's bill which I indicated had been in the last parliament. That bill went through second reading and was passed. It went to committee and had hearings but died as a result of the prorogation of the House. Therefore, I seek the unanimous consent of the House to have the bill reinstated to the same position it was in at the time of prorogation of the first session of parliament.