House of Commons Hansard #146 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was species.

Topics

Privilege

9:55 a.m.

Liberal

Marlene Catterall Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, on Wednesday, February 20, 2002, the hon. leader of the official opposition raised a question of privilege in which he made several assertions concerning my conduct and behaviour. He has raised a most serious issue of privilege and I take it very seriously. Therefore I asked for and appreciate the chance in the House to consider his comments and respond more fully.

You know better than anyone, Mr. Speaker, that for the business and decorum of the House it is vital that House officers work together in a spirit of courtesy, honesty and integrity. That is a responsibility I take very seriously. This is what I have done consistently, not as a tactic and not as a way of operating but as a genuine expression of my real respect for those people with whom I have to work, for you and for the House, Mr. Speaker.

I was accused yesterday in the House of intimidation, of harassment, of goonish misconduct, of threatening not only my own colleagues but opposition members and a staff member of the official opposition, and of running roughshod over the rights of opposition members.

All these accusations arose simply because I was doing my job, carrying out my responsibilities as chief government whip, responsibilities I have in common with every other whip in the House. For instance, the standing orders specifically provide that our responsibilities as whips, individually and collectively, are constituted as a steering committee for the purpose of naming the membership of committees in the House. A committee is only constituted when the chief government whip asks the clerk to convene a meeting of the committee for the first time.

In carrying out these duties and others the five whips regularly consult with each other. It is not unusual for us to communicate directly with each other or through our staffs. I will regularly communicate with them, as they will with me, a course of action I would like to see taken and ask for their support. The other whips do precisely the same. They have done on numerous occasions and will continue to do so, I trust, in the future.

I categorically deny the accusations brought against me by the Leader of the Opposition. At no time did I intimidate or harass anyone. Nor did I have any intention of doing so.

In his statement the hon. leader chose to accuse me of feeling free to intimidate government members. This accusation too is simply false. I taught my children at a young age not to be bullies and not to give into bullies and I have not become one. The hon. Leader of the Opposition also stated that parliament must use all its powers to condemn any conduct of harassment. On this I agree totally.

I want to refer only briefly to the statement by the hon. member for Regina--Qu'Appelle with whom I have a relationship going back 13 years. I am appalled that he would repeat as fact an allegation concerning my conversation with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue which she has denied, which I have denied repeatedly, which he knows has been denied, and which he only heard, he claims, third hand.

As for the member for Kings--Hants I similarly deny any attempt to intimidate or coerce him into any form of action. To request his co-operation is a legitimate part of my function.

I particularly regret, however, if a member of the whip's staff of the official opposition felt intimidated. We had a conversation in which I communicated with her as she or another representative of the opposition whip communicate with me on numerous occasions. I hope we will continue to do that. I certainly did not intend to intimidate or to harass. I regret very much if that were the impression she was left with.

Once again I categorically deny, as I did yesterday, the statement attributed to me and any action of intimidation, harassment or anything else I have been accused of. I look forward to a continuing good relationship with the other House officers in this place.

Privilege

10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

The Chair has heard the submissions of the chief government whip on the question of privilege raised by the hon. Leader of the Opposition yesterday and commented upon by the hon. member for Regina--Qu'Appelle and the hon. member for Kings--Hants.

I have heard all the material and I must say that having heard the explanation of the chief government whip, and having heard the words that she was alleged to have used in direct quotes, not the third party ones, I am satisfied that there does not appear to be any question of privilege and that, indeed, the discussions that went on, while they may have been interpreted one way or another, were ones that are normal in the House and certainly normal between whips.

I say that never having been a whip but having been whipped the odd time, and not by the current chief government whip, I may say. I am sure all hon. members have experienced the joys of whipping from their whip except those very few who sit as independents in the House. We appreciate that sometimes this work involves discussions that are quite frank and sometimes might be perceived as intimidating.

In my view, given the explanations we have heard today and the comments that we heard yesterday, there is not a question of privilege here and accordingly I consider the matter terminated.

Government Response to Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Halifax West
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I hope no one will be intimidated that pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to three petitions.

Interparliamentary Delegations
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Bernard Patry Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, two reports by the Canadian branch of the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie and the related financial report.

The first report is on the political committee meeting, held in Paris, France, from January 25 to 27, 2002. The second report has to do with the executive committee meeting, also held in Paris, France.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the seventh report of the Standing Committee on Official Languages. I am pleased to present this final report on the services provided in both official languages by Air Canada.

This is the outcome of close to ten months' work, and we hope to raise the awareness of the government and all parliamentarians on the importance of compliance with the Official Languages Act by this country's largest air carrier.

The committee wishes to underline the outstanding collaboration and support of the people who appeared before the committee and also of the people who serve the committee.

We wish to thank the researchers in the Parliamentary Research Branch of the Library of Parliament, Françoise Coulombe and Robert Asselin, as well as the clerks, Tonu Onu and Jean-François Pagé, and their support staff for their invaluable co-operation. I also wish to thank my administrative assistant, Royal Galipeau, whose influence is felt pretty well throughout the report.

I would like to particularly mention the staff of the Parliamentary Publications Branch, as well as the House of Commons translation services, for their remarkable job within deadlines that were close to impossible.

Finally, thanks to the numerous Senators on the joint committee for their excellent contribution to the work of the committee, and to this report in particular.

In addition to the recommendations contained in the report, we are asking some questions of the government, a new formula we trust will attract its attention. We are calling for a response within 150 days as stipulated in the standing orders, but sooner if possible, so as to expedite the task before us.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Scott Reid Lanark—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I seek unanimous consent of the House to present a dissenting report to the report of the Standing Joint Committee on Official Languages.

The reason for which this dissenting report is being submitted in this unusual manner is that the committee adopted a rule last Monday at its sitting which stated, if I may quote, that:

Pursuant to Standing Order 108(1)a), the Committee authorize the printing of the dissenting or supplementary opinions by Committee members as an appendix to this report immediately after the signature of the Co-Chairs, that the dissenting or supplementary opinions be sent to the Co-Clerk of the House of Commons, in both official languages, on/or before Tuesday, February 19, 2002 at 5:00 p.m.

I was in Toronto on February 19 and was flying back to Ottawa on a flight from Toronto Island airport. An electrical fire developed in the airplane and it was forced to turn around and return to the airport. It was quite exciting, actually. There were rescue vehicles and the trucks that spray the foam out on the runway. It slowed us down. The result was that by the time I was able to reschedule my flight and come to Ottawa the deadline had passed.

It was not possible for the committee to change its rules in that very short period of time. Moreover, it would have been impossible for the committee to print its report in time to place it before the House today. For that reason the committee was unable to change direction on a dime, as it were, and allow me to submit this dissenting report.

That was the reason for the failure to submit it by the deadline. There was no ill will on anyone's part nor were the rules that were set up in any way meant to cause this sort of situation.

So that members who are trying to decide if they would give their unanimous consent are aware, the nature of the dissenting report is not to disagree with the points of substance in the main report but rather to present a different philosophical point of view in which I maintain that the rules that affect Air Canada, by being different from the rules that affect other airlines, create a unlevel playing field. Fundamentally this is in conflict with the rule of law. That is the substance of the distinction between what I am saying and what the report of the committee as a whole is saying.

On one last note, I wish to second the thanks that the chairman of the committee has given to the clerk of the committee and to the researchers and others who helped the committee.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Lanark--Carleton has given an explanation. Does the House give its consent for the tabling of this dissenting report?

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise to present a petition not only from citizens from the Peterborough area and Lakefield, but also from communities like Sidney, East Saanich and Victoria in British Columbia, and from Hamilton, Brampton, Dundas, Thunder Bay, Toronto and Simcoe in Ontario. These are citizens of Canada who are concerned about Canada's role in Antarctica. They point out that the Antarctic continent contains a pristine, scientifically valuable environment that is in need of protection.

They also point out that Canada, despite being a polar nation, lags behind many nations as far as environmental initiatives in Antarctica are concerned. The environmental protocol to the Antarctic treaty system presents practical guidelines concerning environmental issues in Antarctica. These citizens call upon parliament, representing a signatory country to the environmental protocol, and say that Canada should ratify all of that protocol's guidelines in Canadian law.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to present a petition from many citizens of Peterborough who would like to see the name of the Institute of Nutrition, Metabolism and Diabetes, which is one of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, changed to include the word kidney. These citizens believe that the fine work this institute does would be improved if the general public could understand its title.

They call upon the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to explicitly include kidney research in one of the institutes in its system, to be named the institute of kidney and urinary tract diseases.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Halifax West
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, if Question No. 84 could be made an order for return, the return would be tabled immediately.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Question No. 84—
Routine Proceedings

February 21st, 2002 / 10:15 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

With respect to victims of crime, what is the number of lawsuits filed against Corrections Service Canada and the National Parole Board since 1988, and what is the nature of each such lawsuit?

Return tabled.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Halifax West
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all remaining questions be allowed to stand.