House of Commons Hansard #151 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was police.

Topics

The Economy
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Ottawa South
Ontario

Liberal

John Manley Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the unemployed do not pay into the fund, they receive benefits from it. So it is not a tax on the unemployed.

As hon. members are well aware, we are currently engaged in public consultations on the employment insurance fund. There will be changes for 2005, and revenue will more or less offset benefits paid out.

Cinar
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Marceau Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, on Monday, the Solicitor General replied to a question about CINAR, saying, and I quote:

—I cannot comment on this matter. I will take it under advisement and get back to the member.

I am asking the Solicitor General if he is ready to get back to me today.

Cinar
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Malpeque
P.E.I.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, as I informed the member the other day, I will take the question under advisement and report back when I have the information. I do not have that information yet.

Health
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Lunney Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, under the new natural health products directorate, the minister has committed a mere $1 million a year for research on non-patentable NHPs, products which could greatly improve the health outcomes of Canadians. That is a whopping one-tenth of one per cent of what the government commits to medical research through the CIHR and other agencies.

Does the Minister of Health really think that $1 million is sufficient funding to advance health care avenues that hold such great promise? Does she really believe that such research should only be done by medical doctors and dentists?

Health
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Edmonton West
Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the government spends a significant amount of money on all forms of health and medical research. The allocation of those dollars obviously is done in consultation with those in my department and key stakeholders who perform that research.

I am sorry if the hon. member does not think that amount is enough. If he would like to talk to me about it, I would be more than willing to listen to his concerns.

The Environment
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, a public servant in the Government of New Brunswick, Simone Godin, states that the Bennett Environmental project at Belledune is based on the absence of regulations in New Brunswick governing dangerous waste. The province is very vulnerable, because there is no legislation dealing specifically with the management of toxic waste.

Under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, the Minister of the Environment may refuse entry to dangerous wastes, if they will not be managed in a manner that will protect the environment and human health.

Will the Minister of the Environment intervene at Belledune because the province has no regulations governing toxic waste?

The Environment
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Victoria
B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, so far, there have been no requests for permits to import toxic waste or other material to Belledune. When such a request is made, I shall, of course, be ready to examine all aspects of the situation and make a decision based upon the facts.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Question Period

November 5th, 2003 / 3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I draw the attention of hon. members, on the occasion of Veterans Week, to the presence in the gallery of distinguished Canadians.

First, there is Mr. Paul Métivier, a veteran of World War I.

In addition, present are veteran of World War II Nursing Sister Hallie Sloan; Korean war veteran, Mr. Harold True; and retired peacekeeper, Mr. Ernest Boutillier.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I also draw the attention of hon. members to the presence in the gallery of Mr. Ryan Malcolm, from Kingston, Ontario, winner of the Canadian Idol competition. I invite all hon. members to meet Mr. Malcolm at a reception at 3:15 p.m. in room 216-N.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. The Chair has received notice from the hon. government House leader that he wishes to raise a point of order with respect to the matter we heard yesterday.

Points of Order
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Minister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address the matter of privilege raised yesterday by the hon. member for Scarborough—Rouge River.

I regret that yesterday I was not available to make comments because of the preparation work necessary in order to say what I am about to say today. I do not wish to dispute, of course, in any way the substance or the gravity of the matter raised by the hon. member, but I wish to make a few points that arise from the very importance and gravity of the issues at hand in the hope that it might assist the Chair on making a decision at some point.

The matter involves the finding of a committee of this House that a witness intentionally misinformed it. I suggest it is essential that in your ruling, Mr. Speaker, you should make it very clear to every citizen who may come before a committee of the House the responsibilities that he or she has for providing that committee, and therefore by extension this House, with full and truthful information and the consequences that may follow from a failure by anyone to uphold those responsibilities.

It is not sufficient for us, as a legislative body, merely to take action in an individual case. It should be made clear to all citizens what standards must be maintained by providing information to the House and its committees. I believe that in your ruling, whenever Mr. Speaker is available to make it, that you should endeavour to provide the citizens with a clear statement of these responsibilities. I do believe that we would then have a document that would greatly assist us in the future.

I also hope that in your ruling, Mr. Speaker, you will also attempt to provide the House with an outline of its options should you find a prima facie case of contempt with the issue that is brought before Your Honour. That is the second issue before us. Many of us recall the instance of December 22, 1976 when the House chose to declare a newspaper editorial to be a contempt, but did not pursue the matter further.

We are also familiar with the usual response of the House to prima facie findings by the Speaker, which is to refer the matter to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs for thorough investigation and recommendation as to subsequent action. In other words, that committee, should that be Your Honour's finding to refer it there, would deal strictly with that issue of contempt as opposed to other issues generally.

I have seen, however, some speculation in the media that it may be proposed, should a prima facie case be found, to summon a private citizen to the Bar of the House to be questioned and possibly punished. Such an event has not occurred for many years, perhaps almost a century. I believe that before it is proposed the House should follow such a course, it is essential that members understand in detail what this would involved with regard to: first, the summoning of the citizen and what would happen if he or she could not be found or refused to attend; second, how questions are posed to a person at the Bar, including the need for a debatable motion--and perhaps the Chair could indicate to us whether the motion is debatable-- to approve such a question; and third, the options that are available to the House should it deem punishment required.

I do believe that all these elements would be necessary to hear from in Mr. Speaker's ruling in that regard. That is really the purpose of my intervention today.

The reason I believe such an exposition from the Chair is necessary at this time is precisely because of the gravity of the issues and because it has been so many years since the House has pursued some of these options.

We must remember that a citizen has no appeal from a decision of this House. That is a further issue I invite your honour to consider. It is therefore incumbent upon the House to ensure that it maintains the constitutional dignity of the House and that it is careful to ensure that citizens at large perceive it to be doing precisely that, to be acting on the highest grounds according to the principles of natural justice, more particularly, not to be acting at the improper expense of an individual citizen's rights and freedoms.

For this reason, Mr. Speaker, I ask that your ruling be as comprehensive as possible in order to provide the clear guidance that I believe the House requires and indeed that all Canadians would no doubt want to hear.

Points of Order
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Paul Forseth New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am quite surprised at the response from the House leader. I would have thought that in these kinds of cases there would have been some advance notice and discussion. I detect some angling for a moving away from the House being able to deal with this issue in a proper manner.

I was very guarded in my comments yesterday by outlining just the last page words in the report itself where it talked about the gravity of the offence.

The House leader is talking in some respects about general deterrence. That is my point: we cannot merely get to a situation where the House says that something is very grave and should not be done, but then fail to act.

I have asked this question. How bad do things have to be before democracy will be defended? In the contents of the report itself it very clearly outlines how Parliament has been offended. Here is the test case for the government and for members of this House as a whole to ensure that democracy itself is defended.

We are coming into Remembrance Week, and I wonder why we have graves of brave Canadians around the world. For what were they fighting? At some point Parliament has to defend its independent role. Parliament is not the government, and in the face of Parliament, the highest court of the land, this House has to defend itself, not only for its own convenience but for future generations. That is why 20 or 30 years from now, when perhaps a similar circumstance is looked at, it will be said, “What was done?”

I bring my comments back to the last page of the committee report to emphasize in the strongest terms that indeed, as has been expressed in the media, I have expressed my opinions that we should push this to the full extent of redress that is available to the House and that has never been lost. We should speak in the 21st century and not rely on 19th century remedies.

Points of Order
Oral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think the House understands the predicament we are in, in this matter. However, there have been discussions and, based on the ninth report of the standing committee, the basis for the opinion of the committee that there is prima facie contempt is clear and understandable.

There were discussions yesterday among all parties that it was the intent of all parties not to extend the process to the fullest extent and indeed waive questions and simply deal with the question of contempt.

If the suggestion of the hon. House leader is followed, this matter goes into some sort of limbo. I want to assure you, Mr. Speaker, the committee was very concerned that this matter be disposed of in an expeditious manner, because employees are in a state of limbo themselves, wondering whether there are any further consequences here.

The committee is clear that there must be some expeditious closure. Consequently, I would move, and seek the unanimous consent of the House, that this House do find Mr. George Radwanski in contempt of Parliament, without debate.