House of Commons Hansard #131 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was copyright.

Topics

Zahra Kazemi
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to support the motion. I applaud the member for raising it. On one hand I applaud it, but on the other hand I think his party has let down this family dramatically by not pushing harder and by not demanding that the issue be dealt with differently from day one.

Again, I applaud the member for his motion, but I criticize the government for mishandling from day one. It has not put enough pressure on Iran. It has not made the demands that should have been made and now the family is requesting that the body be brought back to Canada. Perhaps if it came back to Canada, we could find out what actually happened to her and how her death occurred.

Every indication is that the Iranians will not take this issue seriously. They arrested two people, then they released them. Then they arrested somebody else and so on but there is no real action on this. There is no satisfaction from anybody's point of view. What happened to her was awful and we should demand that the body be brought back.

Zahra Kazemi
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Svend Robinson Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my New Democrat colleagues and our leader, Jack Layton, we join in this unanimous call from all sides of the House to the Iranian government to finally do the right thing and return the body of Zahra Kazemi to Canada, to exhume the body and return it, so we can finally learn the truth of what happened.

We know she was interrogated for a period of some 77 hours. She was beaten and murdered. We know there were at least three different agencies involved, and we do not want to see a whitewash on this. The truth must come out. There must be an independent inquiry for which Reporters without Borders, Amnesty International and others have called. We as New Democrats join in this call. We urge the government of Iran to listen to the people of Canada and certainly to listen to her son, Stephan Hachemi, who is calling for justice on behalf of the family.

Zahra Kazemi
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

In accordance with the order adopted earlier this day, the motion is deemed adopted.

(Motion agreed to)

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

I am now prepared to rule on the question of privilege raised on Monday, September 15 by the hon. member for Yorkton—Melville concerning statements of the hon. Minister of Justice in relation to the financial administration of the firearms program.

I would like to thank the hon. member for Yorkton—Melville for raising this matter as well as the government House leader for his comments.

The hon. member for Yorkton—Melville contends that the hon. Minister of Justice misled the House on February 3 in describing the results of a financial review of the firearms program carried out by the consulting firm KPMG and that similar statements were contained in a justice department press release issued on the same day. The hon. member also alleges that the minister had shown contempt for the office of the Auditor General by failing to substantiate the justice department's assessment of the KPMG report.

In support of his charges, the hon. member for Yorkton—Melville pointed to concerns expressed in a letter from an official of the Auditor General's office sent to the deputy minister of justice on February 14. The hon. member cited the following passage from that letter, and I quote from the debates of September 15, page 7340:

We are concerned that there may be insufficient information in the KPMG Report to support the conclusions in the Press Release. We would like to be able to respond to any Parliamentary concerns about the KPMG Report that may be raised in the forthcoming hearings.

There are two statements in the Department's Press Release that are causing concern. These statements conclude that the KPMG Report has allowed the Department of Justice to confirm that the necessary systems are in place to ensure the integrity and completeness of relevant financial data; and

This work has provided the Department with confidence that the information compiled on past expenditures is accurate.

We are concerned that the work described in the KPMG report and accompanying transmission letter does not appear sufficient to support these statements.

The letter from the Office of the Auditor General went on to question whether other aspects of the position taken by the Department of Justice could be fully supported by the report of the consultants’ study.

The hon. government House leader in his intervention pointed out that the KPMG study in question was tabled in the House by the Minister of Justice on February 3, the day that the minister made the comments complained of. The House leader characterized the statements made by the hon. member for Yorkton—Melville as a matter of debate, a difference of opinion, in regard to the report. He noted that since the report in dispute had been made public, members were free to reach their own conclusions with respect to its findings.

Indeed, the government House leader added, that the justice minister and the Auditor General had appeared before the Standing Committee on Public Accounts concerning the firearms program on February 24. Both the minister and the Auditor General had an opportunity at that time to elaborate on their views and respond to questions from hon. members.

As members of Parliament, we all deal regularly with differing interpretations of various events or situations and differing views of documents laid before the House. Members can, and often do, disagree about the actual facts of the same situation. Disagreements of this kind form the basis of our debates. Our rules are designed to permit and indeed to encourage members to present differing views on the given issue. This tolerance of different points of view is an essential feature of the freedom of speech and of the decision making process that lie at the heart of our parliamentary system.

I have examined with care the documents provided to me by the hon. member for Yorkton--Melville. I have also reviewed the arguments both he and the government House leader presented to the House when the question was raised on September 15. I can find no evidence that the hon. Minister of Justice intended at any time to mislead the House.

In my view, the minister simply presented his views regarding a document that he had tabled in the House and his department repeated those views in a press release. I can see no basis in the documents provided by the hon. member for Yorkton--Melville that the minister acted in anything but good faith.

As the government House leader pointed out, the disputed report has been tabled and members can read it and form their own opinions of it. The officials of the Auditor General's office did so, and they seemed not to endorse the minister's view. They have expressed their reservations and have requested further information. Members may do likewise and, if they so choose, pursue the matter directly with the minister through various avenues available here in the House or in committee. However these are matters for debate and they are not matters that the Chair must decide.

With respect to the final point raised by the hon. member for Yorkton--Melville, if the Auditor General requires the assistance of the House to obtain information, she can always seek that assistance through the usual means, such as a special report to the House or in consultation with the public accounts committee and the House can then take whatever action it deems appropriate. At this stage, I see no basis on which, as Speaker, I could intervene on procedural grounds.

I thank the hon. member for Yorkton--Melville for having raised this matter, and of course in his usual very thorough fashion. However, on the evidence before me, I can find no indication that either the minister or the department have breached the privileges of the House in this case.

Interparliamentary Delegations
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

The Speaker

I have the honour to lay upon the table the report on the Canadian parliamentary delegation to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia from May 17 to 23, 2003. I commend it for reading to all hon. members.

Government Response to Petitions
Routine Proceedings

October 1st, 2003 / 3:20 p.m.

Bras D'Or—Cape Breton
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 14 petitions.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Williams St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the twentieth report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts on chapter 6 of the April 2003 report of the Auditor General of Canada entitled “Federal Government Support to First Nations—Housing on Reserves”.

I also have the honour to present, in both official languages, the twenty-first report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts on chapter 6 of the May 2003 report of the Auditor General of Canada, entitled “Reform of Classification and Job Evaluation in the Federal Public Service”.

Pursuant to Standing Order 109 of the House of Commons, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to these two reports.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Jacques Saada Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, if the House gives its consent, I move:

That the membership of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs be modified as follows: Judi Longfield for Guy St-Julien.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

The Speaker

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, today I have three separate petitions from my constituents of Red Deer.

The first petition contains the names of 44 petitioners who call upon Parliament to protect our children by taking all necessary steps to ensure that all materials which promote or glorify pedophilia involving children are outlawed.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, my second petition is signed by 221 constituents. The petitioners request that Parliament take all measures necessary to protect the rights of Canadians to freely share their religion and moral beliefs without fear of prosecution.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, my last petition is signed by 108 petitioners who are against Bill C-13, assisted human reproduction.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Jacques Saada Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, I have the honour of presenting a petition regarding an amendment to the Income Tax Act with respect to volunteers who provide emergency services.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to present a petition today signed by some 536 of my constituents of Prince George—Peace River, mainly from the cities of Dawson Creek and Fort St. John, but also from the rural communities of Cecil Lake, Charlie Lake, Tomslake, Clayhurst, Goodlow, Montney, North Pine, Pouce Coupe, Taylor and Tumbler Ridge.

The petitioners wish to draw to the attention of the House that in their opinion marriage is the best foundation for families and the raising of children. They note that the House passed a motion in June 1999 that called for marriage to continue to be recognized as the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

Therefore, the petitioners call upon Parliament to pass legislation to recognize the institution of marriage in federal law as being a lifelong union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.