House of Commons Hansard #124 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was petro-canada.

Topics

Points Of Order
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I do not want to get into a debate on what was said. The blues exist. If you want to check with what was said, I invite all hon. members to check on it. That will be made available to you very quickly.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I will now deal with a point of privilege that was raised by the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst yesterday. At that time I asked the hon. member directly if he was alleging that the Minister of Human Resources Development leaked a bill or a paper. I was referring to a bill. He answered in the affirmative, “yes”.

The minister is here. The allegation has been made. I ask the hon. minister to address herself to that particular fact.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I have read the Hansard for the member for Acadie—Bathurst's point of privilege yesterday. Let me first say that I take strong exception to his accusation that I have shown contempt for the House and its rules. I respect the House and its practices immensely.

Let me be very clear that I never authorized or instructed anyone to provide a copy of the bill to the media or to any other individual.

After making inquiries with my department, I have confirmed that no copies were distributed to journalists or to anyone else. I can only conclude that no copies of the bill have been leaked and, therefore, any reporting in the media would be speculative.

I know that the member has been working very hard on this issue of employment insurance on behalf of many of his constituents and I know how seriously he takes this issue. He is aware of the adjustments we introduced today and that they have been a topic of varied speculation and wide discussion in recent months, both in the media and elsewhere.

I regret that he has drawn the conclusions that he has over media reports on this issue, but I can reassure him and this House that I would never condone any practice of leaking copies of bills prior to their introduction in this place.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

We have an allegation that was made by the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst. We have a denial by the minister that she was involved and, evidently from an inquiry that she made, that no one on her staff was involved in this.

This matter of leaking documents is one that continues to take our time in the House and, in some ways, to baffle us as to what we are going to do about it. Because there were direct allegations with regard to the information that was released and that which is in the bill, I will take a couple of days to look at everything. If it is necessary, I will come back to the House. What we have now is an allegation and a denial. Until I have a look at it, the matter will stay there.

Points Of Order
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Reform

Grant McNally Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Mr. Speaker, I seek your advice on this question I have for the government on something that I know you have addressed in the House before during question period, and that is a tactic by the government in that when the opposition parties, which have a limited time to keep the government accountable, do ask questions, often a technique is for government members to actually ask questions of the opposition. I think if you check the record today, that happened on at least eight different occasions. I am wondering what can be done in order to remedy this.

Points Of Order
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

I wish I had advice for hon. members. I have found myself in the same situation in years gone by.

You as a House have agreed that you will have about 35 seconds for a question and about 35 seconds for a response. We have had a pretty good run at it in the last three years. We started with getting in 24 questions in a question period. We have been averaging in excess of 35 for the last three years.

I can deal with the quantity, that is to say the timing, but my dear colleague, you will forgive me for saying that I cannot deal with the quality of either the questions or the answers.

My role here is to see to it that a question is asked and that an answer, whatever we want to say about it, is given. I do not make any judgment about the quality of the questions and I do not think you should ask me to make any judgment about the quality of the answers.

Points Of Order
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, I have a point of order arising somewhat out of the circumstances surrounding Bill C-44, which we now have in hand. It concerns the practice of supplying the opposition with copies of the bill in a timely fashion.

This morning the bill itself was tabled. It was introduced at 10.04 a.m. or 10.05 a.m. Within five minutes the minister promptly left the House and went on television to discuss the bill. Some members of the opposition who have the critic's responsi