House of Commons Hansard #39 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was workers.

Topics

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that the hon. member has no confidence in his party's former House leader, the member for Roberval, when he says about the record of sale “Let him provide that, and the problem will be over“.

Why does he not accept the words of his own colleague, the member for Roberval?

Presence In Gallery
Oral Question Period

March 29th, 2001 / 3 p.m.

The Speaker

I draw the attention of hon. members to the presence in the gallery of three distinguished visitors today. Perhaps hon. members could refrain from applauding until all three have been introduced. The first is His Excellency Aleke Banda, Minister of Health & Population of Malawi. The second is the Hon. Mosiuoa Gerard Patrick Lekota, Minister of National Defence of the Republic of South Africa. The third is His Excellency Sandor Pinter, Minister of the Interior of the Republic of Hungary.

Presence In Gallery
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Business Of The House
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deborah Grey Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, may I ask the House leader what is on the agenda for next week and the coming weeks. He has talked about water, but I am sure there are other important things he could share with us today.

Business Of The House
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, this afternoon we will continue consideration of Bill C-2, the employment insurance bill. We will then return to the second reading of Bill C-18, the equalization bill. That will be followed by Bill C-17 respecting the innovation foundation.

On Friday we will consider third reading of Bill C-8, the financial institution, and if necessary we will return to Bill C-18.

On Monday, we will return to Bill C-2. If it is completed at report stage, we will return to Bill C-18, C-17 or C-22 on the Income Tax Act, depending on which of these bills requires further consideration.

Tuesday shall be an allotted day, and I believe it is the Canadian Alliance's turn. On Wednesday, we will return to Bill C-2. We will also try to complete third reading of Bill C-12, the Judges Act amendments, and Bill C-9, the elections bill. If we have the time, I will also suggest completing Bill C-4, respecting the Sustainable Development Foundation, before adjourning for Easter.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Rajotte Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on a question of privilege with regard to a committee matter that is so unique and extraordinary that I must bring it directly to the attention of the House.

My question of privilege charges the chair of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology with contempt. This morning at the standing committee's meeting, the chair abused her authority by ruling out of order a motion concerning her decisions as chair of the committee. Such motions are in order.

Referring to Marleau and Montpetit, on page 858 it states:

Disorder and misconduct in a committee may arise as a result of the failure to abide by the rules and practices of a committee...If a committee desires that some action be taken...it must report the situation to the House. The House may make a decision on disorder upon receiving such a report.

That is exactly what I was attempting to do. How can the committee comply with the practices of the House if the chair rules such motions out of order? What I find most objectionable is the fact that the motion was concerning the actions of the chair.

The motion was to report to the House the matter of the chair's rulings regarding numerous motions concerning the ethics counsellor to the House. Her refusal to allow a motion to report her own actions to the House is a conflict of interest and impedes the committee from being master of its own proceedings.

I would gladly ask the committee to report this conflict of interest to the House, but the chair, based on her decision today, does not entertain motions concerning her decisions. As you can see, Mr. Speaker, my only recourse is to bring the matter to the House directly.

The House is entitled to all reports and has a duty to deal with contempts or misconducts that occur in committee. Since that is not possible, since the chair has impeded the committee's ability to decide to report the matter to the House, I must submit the chair's actions directly to the House. The chair's rulings regarding certain motions were biased and inconsistent with the practices of the House.

The final motion she disallowed was a motion to report her rulings to the House. That goes to the very heart of the question of privilege. The member cannot procedurally or legitimately disallow a motion that might jeopardize her position as chair. She cannot silence criticism against her authority and refuse to implement the wishes of those who elected her.

On page 119 of Erskine May there is a reference regarding a select committee that was appointed in 1977 to inquire into the conduct and activities of members and to consider whether any such conduct or activities amounted to a contempt of the House and whether any such activities were “conduct inconsistent with the standards the House was entitled to expect from its members”.

I consider the chair's decisions at the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology to be conduct inconsistent with the standards that the House and the public expect from a member.

There is a great deal at stake here. We cannot let the matter go unresolved. The hon. member for Essex must be found in contempt by the House. While my rights as a member of the standing committee are immediately at stake, ultimately the threat is to the democratic rights and freedoms of all members of the House.

The member is contributing to the inability of the House to resolve the matter of the appearance of a conflict of interest regarding the Prime Minister's involvement with the Grand-Mère Golf Club and Grand-Mère Inn.

Her role as chair is not to protect the Prime Minister but to protect the rights of all members of the committee and to uphold the rules and practices of the House. In that regard she has failed, and she has no right to impede my efforts to report those decisions to the House.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the issue we are referring to occurred over two days. In the first incident some members of the committee attempted to bring in witnesses to review the activities of a member of the House. Obviously members know that cannot be done. It is quite clear under our rules and under Maingot's advice that one cannot do that. At the first meeting the chair ruled that was out of order and that was sustained.

At the second meeting, the information I have is that an hon. member who was dissatisfied with both the ruling at first reading and the sustaining of the chair's ruling tried to bring a motion to report that to the House. When that was ruled out of order by the committee chair the ruling was appealed.

The hon. member has failed to indicate that the ruling he refers to was appealed and that the appeal was sustained by a vote of the committee. He neglected, either skilfully or perhaps he forgot, that very important element. The ruling was sustained. I suggest that this issue should not be before the House at all.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I do not think the Chair need hear any more on this point. The point appears to me to be clear. I received the letter from the hon. member for Edmonton Southwest and have heard his arguments. I have heard the arguments put forward by the hon. government House leader.

Certainly the committee is master of its own procedure. The fact that the committee made a decision to uphold the decision of its chair renders it impossible for this Chair to intervene.

If the committee, being master of its own procedure, has decided that is the way it wishes to proceed, I do not believe it is in order for the hon. member to come to the House under the guise of a question of privilege and attempt to challenge the ruling of the chairman of the committee. In the circumstances, I find there is no question of privilege raised here.

Points Of Order
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deborah Grey Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have something to which the Chair and the Secretary of State for Multiculturalism should be made aware given the events of last week.

I would like to table the secretary of state's press release dated March 8, 2000. It may help her to answer a question I asked her in question period. Her response to the question I had asked was “I do not know what the member is alluding to”. Her response to my second question was “I will not make a comment on something that I know nothing about”.

We would find that hard to believe.

Points Of Order
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

It does not sound like a point of order to me. This sounds like an argument. The hon. member for Edmonton North is requesting consent to table some documents. Is there consent?

Points Of Order
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Points Of Order
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Points Of Order
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, during question period I referenced a letter signed by a Canadian immigration official, dated March 6, 2001, which clearly stated “Unfortunately, the occupational demand for a nurse is currently zero”. I would like to seek unanimous consent from the House to table the letter.

Points Of Order
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

Is there consent?

Points Of Order
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.