House of Commons Hansard #71 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Trade
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Mac Harb Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister for International Trade.

The WTO from time to time reviews the trading policies of its members. I want to ask the minister what the WTO has found in its latest review of Canada's trading policies, considering Canada is one of the four largest trading partners in the world. Could the minister tell us what it has found in its review?

Trade
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, indeed the WTO has very good news.

Canada has been recognized by the WTO as one of the most transparent and liberal traders in the world.

Canada has been recognized by the WTO as one of the world's most transparent and liberal traders. The WTO recognizes that sound economic policies and an outward looking trade regime have allowed Canada to maintain economic growth in the face of a global economic slowdown. We are on the right track thanks to our international policies.

The Environment
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Werner Schmidt Kelowna, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of the Environment.

Internal documents from the department tell us very clearly that failure to properly fund Canada's weather stations is putting at risk the safety and security of Canadians because of the lack of access to warning information. The $75 million announced by the minister last week will not even restore the critical infrastructure requirement.

Will the minister admit that the continual underfunding by his government is causing the consolidation of the weather stations like Kelowna?

The Environment
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Victoria
B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member has already pointed out, last week we announced $75 million more for the Meteorological Service of Canada. In addition, we are carrying out certain reorganization which will increase the efficiency of the service and therefore continue to have our primary objective, the safety of Canadians, paramount and successfully protected in the future.

This is an important reorganization, an important addition of new money. I think the hon. member and other members of the Alliance Party should welcome it.

Iraq
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, Kofi Annan has stated that the legitimacy of any unilateral intervention conducted without the authority of the Security Council would be seriously compromised.

Does the Prime Minister intend to advise the President of the United States that he agrees with Kofi Annan and that Canada condemns the American and British intervention?

Iraq
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, perhaps I could take this opportunity to read the rest of my statement, and answer the question at the same time.

Canada worked very hard to find a compromise to bridge the gap in the Security Council. Unfortunately we were not successful.If military action proceeds without a new resolution of the Security Council, Canada will not participate.

We have ships in the area as part of our participation in the struggle against terrorism. Our ships will continue to perform their important mission against terrorism.

This answers the question pretty well. The remarks I have made were along the same line as those—

Iraq
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Prime Minister, but this is all the time we had for oral question period. The hon. member for Calgary Centre, on a point of order.

Points of Order
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I hope the Prime Minister might delay his retreat for just a moment.

The House welcomed, finally, some clarity from the Prime Minister on the government's attitude toward Iraq, but surely, Sir, a statement of that importance should have been given by the Prime Minister on motions or in a formal statement to this House rather than being smuggled into question period in the way that he did it.

Points of Order
Oral Question Period

3 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 think most members would agree that this intervention has nothing to do with a point of order. Obviously the Prime Minister not only has a right but a duty, which he manifests all the time, of responding very forthrightly to questions from hon. members. Had he not done that today, the same right hon. member would probably have been up asking the Prime Minister why he failed to do exactly what he just did.

Points of Order
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to rise in support of the point of order from the right hon. member. While we welcomed the Prime Minister's willingness to make a statement in the House, we have a procedure for that in our Standing Orders. It is called Statements by Ministers. The Prime Minister, instead of trying to smuggle something into question period that would have been properly done elsewhere, should have made a statement under Statements by Ministers, or he could have sought unanimous consent of the House to make a statement before question period or after, all of which would have provided a much better opportunity for the House to deal with this issue.

Points of Order
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

While I appreciate the points of order that have been raised in the intervention of the right hon. member for Calgary Centre and the hon. member for Winnipeg—Transcona and the government House leader, hon. members know that all kinds of things can get smuggled into question period, whether it is in the answers or whether it is in the questions. Perhaps I should say the responses and the questions. I do not want to cause offence.

For this to happen is not an unusual occurrence. While members may have preferred to have a statement instead so there was an opportunity to respond or to suggest that it be done during debates so that there could be a more lengthy presentation of questions and comments and so on, these things are all possibilities, and I am glad they have been mentioned, but unfortunately I do not think they constitute a point of order or a question of privilege at this point in time. Accordingly, we will move on.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I am now prepared to rule on the question of privilege raised by the hon. member for Mississauga West on February 25, 2003, concerning a letter sent to him by the hon. member for Calgary West.

I would like to thank the hon. member for Mississauga West for having raised this issue as well as the hon. opposition House leader and the hon. member for Calgary West for their comments on the matter.

The hon. member for Mississauga West, in presenting his case, stated that he had received a request from the hon. member for Calgary West to write to the Prime Minister concerning the Falun Gong. The request was accompanied by a draft letter addressed to the Prime Minister from the hon. member for Mississauga West, ready to be signed by him should he decide to do so.

The objection raised by the hon. member for Mississauga West focuses on the fact that this letter was written on House of Commons letterhead. He has expressed disagreement with this approach because, among other things, it seems to give an official seal of approval to what is really only an MP's personal initiative.

The hon. member for Mississauga West protested that the draft letter, printed as it was on House letterhead, made it more likely that his own position might be misrepresented or taken out of context. All hon. members are acutely aware of the difficulties that may arise when this happens and the Chair agrees that every member of this House has an obligation to ensure that they are not the source of such a misrepresentation, even if done unintentionally or inadvertently.

In the present case, however, I fail to see that any such misrepresentation has occurred, let alone that any aspect of parliamentary privilege is involved. The use of generic House of Commons letterhead on a document submitted to another member for his or her consideration and possible signature hardly seems to involve misrepresentation or an attempt to interfere with the right of hon. members to conduct the business of Parliament without obstruction.

In past rulings, the Chair has tried to assist hon. members by indicating the limits of parliamentary privilege as it applies to them as individuals. Members who have an interest in this aspect of our rules will find it discussed in House of Commons Procedure and Practice at pages 71 to 95, and I invite hon. members to revisit those pages for a comprehensive explanation of this issue.

Meanwhile, I can see no infraction of any of our rules in the case now before us and I therefore find that no prima facie breach of privilege or of contempt has occurred in this situation.

Report of the Electoral Boundaries Commission
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

It is my duty pursuant to section 21 of the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act to lay upon the table a certified copy of the report of the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for British Columbia.

This report is deemed permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

Government Response to Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Halifax West
Nova Scotia

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 21 petitions.

Parliament of Canada Act
Routine Proceedings

March 17th, 2003 / 3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Eugène Bellemare Ottawa—Orléans, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-408, an act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act (oath or solemn affirmation).

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to introduce a bill that would modify the oath of allegiance sworn by members of Parliament when they are elected.

At the present time, we swear allegiance to the Queen. I have no intention whatsoever of calling for the reference to the Queen to be taken out. What I am asking instead is for an addition, a proof of our pride and responsibility toward our constituents, the people of Canada. I therefore wish to add loyalty to Canada to the oath.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)