House of Commons Hansard #91 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was parks.

Topics

International Trade
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Reform

Deepak Obhrai Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, a 1997 internal audit of the trade association element of the program for export market development revealed a number of shortcomings including a lack of program priorities and methods of assessing results.

The minister has had more than two years to implement recommendations in the audit but has failed to do so. In the meantime, the minister has spent $14.7 million of the taxpayers' dollars. Why?

International Trade
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, we will look into the audit that my hon. colleague is referring to.

I have had a number of discussions with my deputy minister in the last few weeks and months. I am told that we have implemented everything that was needed to make sure that the distribution of grants and contributions in the Department of International Trade respected very elevated criteria to make sure that they served the purpose of the programs that we have created to help Canadians to do better in international trade around the world.

The Environment
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Bloc

Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, the federal government is currently reviewing the Environmental Assessment Act, which it uses to interfere in all sorts of provincial matters.

However, this same government is refusing to submit major federal projects such as the export of nuclear plants or the import of plutonium to a full environmental assessment.

Will the Minister of the Environment agree to submit the export of nuclear plants and the import of uranium to a full environmental assessment?

The Environment
Oral Question Period

Noon

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Natural Resources and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada is quite confident that the procedures and practices it follows at the present time, and has followed in the past, are in full compliance with all legal requirements.

As the hon. member knows, there is some outstanding litigation at the present in time and therefore it would be inappropriate to comment further other than to say that from the government's point of view we are confident of our legal position.

Liberal Party
Oral Question Period

Noon

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal caucus of the Atlantic said “Let's catch the wave, let's make changes to the employment insurance if we want to win the next election”.

At the March convention the Prime Minister said that the Liberals lost the Atlantic provinces because they cut employment insurance and that changes were needed to get them back.

Could the Deputy Prime Minister tell us what the Prime Minister meant when he made those statements to Canadians.

Liberal Party
Oral Question Period

Noon

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for endorsing the words of the Prime Minister. This is great praise indeed coming from the NDP.

Health
Oral Question Period

Noon

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Charlotte, NB

Mr. Speaker, in response to me earlier, the minister said that he will not say yes or no on bill 11. I suggest that he does not have the nerve to say yes or no, and is hiding under—

Health
Oral Question Period

Noon

The Speaker

It is getting a little bit rambunctious. Please, go directly to your question.

Health
Oral Question Period

Noon

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Charlotte, NB

Mr. Speaker, I will shift gears a little bit and go to a minister who may may give me a response.

Health
Oral Question Period

Noon

The Speaker

I do not think so. That brings to a conclusion our question period today.

Presence In Gallery
Oral Question Period

May 5th, 2000 / noon

The Speaker

I draw the attention of hon. members to the presence in the gallery of a delegation of honourable ministers from the countries of Ghana, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. They are participating in the Africa Direct Conference.

Presence In Gallery
Oral Question Period

Noon

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

Noon

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Charlotte, NB

Mr. Speaker, I have given notice of a question of privilege and I want you to refer first to Joseph Maingot's second edition, chapter 12, wherein it is made clear that a question of privilege is a proper vehicle for bringing to the attention of the House a matter which the House may consider to be a contempt of this House. I particularly direct your attention to pages 224 and 225.

I make this point at the outset, Mr. Speaker, to remove from your mind any consideration of the usual test that you would apply for any breach of the immunities of parliamentary privilege. I am compelled to use the vehicle of a question of privilege to ask that you find there is evidence of a prima facie contempt of the House.

I have a letter on House of Commons stationery, which was procured at the expense of the Canadian taxpayer. The letter solicits attendance at a meeting to meet representatives for the leadership race for the Canadian Alliance. The letter was signed by the member of parliament for New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby. It was sent out using first class postal frank, which is again using a publicly financed facility. I am prepared to table that letter.

Apart from the hypocrisy of using public funds by a member of a party who says it is for fiscal responsibility, or stands for fiscal responsibilities, and less use of public expenditures, this is a gross misuse of the facilities put at the disposal of members of parliament.

There is a place for partisan activity in every member's office. However, I submit that it is a gross impropriety for a member to finance his party's leadership race using publicly paid for facilities and supplies. Supporters of the member's party should pay for this sort of message not every Canadian taxpayer, whether it is my riding, your riding, Mr. Speaker, or any other member's riding.

I submit that every member knows that this is wrong and that there has been a deliberate abuse of the system by the member for New Westminister—Coquitlam—Burnaby. This offends the unwritten practices of the House and, as such, constitutes contempt of the House.

The question that arises is just how much more of the Canadian Alliance leadership race is going to be publicly financed by the Canadian taxpayers? Why should I, as an MP, have to defend to my overtaxed constituents this sort or abuse? This brings into disrepute the reputation of every member of the House. This sort of action brings public life into disrepute and, for this reason, it is contemptuous of the House.

Party leadership races should be financed through the party or private contributors. By abusing the trust which every member has to use public supplies and services in a proper manner, the member for New Westminister—Coquitlam—Burnaby has, in my opinion, brought the House into odium and public disrespect. As members of parliament, we are all offended by this.

Should you, Mr. Speaker, find that there is a prima facie case to be answered by the member, I am prepared to move the necessary motion to refer the matter to committee.

On that, I rest my case. I am sure other members will also want to engage in the debate on this question of privilege.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

12:05 p.m.

The Speaker

Before I hear any other interventions, this has occurred before in the House of Commons. Madam Speaker Sauvé gave a ruling on December 15, 1982. The ruling stated:

The Speaker does not interfere to tell Hon. Members in what instances they may use their frank or may not use their frank. This is up to the Hon. Member to determine. He does it within his own conception of what is or is not proper. If something improper arises, Hon. Members usually discuss it in the Committee.

Where this usually comes up is in the committee for internal economy and would possibly be sent to the committee for procedure.

I think what you are asking, if not me, the House to do is to look at all the material that members send out under their frank. This would be extremely difficult. The House, or a committee of the House, or the Speaker would become a censor to what members can or cannot send out.

I appeal to hon. members to use their good judgment when sending out material. I think we have members here now who sit on the Board of Internal Economy, where this should perhaps be brought up, if not by one of the members here, by the hon. member's spokesperson on the Board of Internal Economy.

I suggest that we handle this particular case in this way. I will wait to have some kind of direction from the Board of Internal Economy, which may or may not choose to forward it to the procedures committee.

I have a point of order that I want to listen to now. The hon. member for Peace River.

Points Of Order
Oral Question Period

12:10 p.m.

Reform

Charlie Penson Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, during question period, the Minister of Industry suggested that it was the first time I had asked a question of him since becoming the industry critic for our party. Hansard will show that is not true, and I—