House of Commons Hansard #19 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was producers.

Topics

Privilege

10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Garry Breitkreuz Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, on February 19, I raised a question of privilege and accused the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness of misleading the House. During my remarks, I provided you with an account of the events as they were related to me by officials at the CBC, an account that differed from the explanation provided by the Deputy Prime Minister in her point of order on Friday, February 20.

On Tuesday, February 17, the producer of the Zone Libre show at CBC assured me by phone and e-mail that no one had called from the Canada Firearms Centre or from the minister's office.

After I informed her that I was going to raise the matter in the House of Commons, she double-checked and, in another e-mail received on Wednesday, February 18, the CBC producer assured me that they had not received a call from the government asking for their calculations. Based upon this information, I sent you notice and raised my question of privilege in the House on Thursday, February 19.

Since the Deputy Prime Minister provided her officials' versions of the communication between her department and CBC last Friday, I asked CBC to check their records again.

Yesterday the CBC producer of the Zone Libre segment on the gun registry provided the following explanation. I would like to give you this quotation and read it into the record:

Irene Arseneault, media relations for the Firearms centre, left a phone message on Anne Panasuk's office voice mail Sunday February 15th with questions regarding Zone Libre's content.

Anne P. picked up the message on Monday morning on arriving to work. Ms. Arseneault's message did not refer to [the Deputy Prime Minister] nor the urgency of Monday's question period so we did not associate this call with the Deputy Prime Minister.

Anne and I received no other calls from the government on Monday. Anne P. was unsuccessful in reaching Ms. Arseneault on the phone so she responded by e-mail Monday afternoon, (i.e. after question period). And we have not heard from Ms. Arseneault since. But this may be the call to which [the Deputy Prime Minister] was referring.

We have never objected to giving the details of our calculations and indeed have done so in the days that followed specifically to the office of the Deputy Prime Minister, when the request was clearly made by her office on the following Wednesday, February 18th.

That is the end of the quotation.

Now that the full facts are known about the exchange of the phone calls and e-mails between the CBC, the Canada Firearms Centre and the Deputy Prime Minister's office, I revisited the statement made by the Deputy Prime Minister in response to my question on Monday, February 16. It is clear now that someone from the minister's department did call Zone Libre and left a message, so the minister was correct on that point. It is also clear that CBC's Zone Libre never did refuse to provide their calculations of the $2 billion expenditure on the firearms program.

Given the confusion over the communication between the CBC and the department and the minister's office, I am prepared to concede that the minister's officials may have simply used a poor choice of words when advising the minister about why they did not have the CBC's calculation by the time question period started.

Given that mistakes were made on all sides, I am prepared to concede that the Deputy Prime Minister was answering my question with the best information available at the time, just as I was presenting the most factual information I had available at the time I raised my question of privilege. Had CBC provided me with the information that they had in fact received a call from an official in the firearms centre on Sunday, February 15, I would not have raised a question of privilege.

Consequently, I withdraw my question of privilege. I apologize to the Deputy Prime Minister, to the Speaker, and to the House of Commons. I am sorry.

Privilege

10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

I thank the hon. member for Yorkton—Melville for his usual thoroughness in reviewing this matter. I thank him for clearing up the matter for all members.

Privilege

10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

I am now prepared to rule on the question of privilege raised by the hon. member for Calgary Southeast on February 23, 2004, concerning a document tabled by the hon. President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board.

I thank the hon. member for Calgary Southeast for having raised this matter as well as the President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board for his comments. At issue was the question of whether the President of the Treasury Board misled the House by claiming that a document he had tabled supported his contention that a grant had been made to a firm in the riding of the hon. member for Calgary Southeast.

The House may find it helpful if I first summarize the background of the question before us. On Wednesday, February 18, 2004, in response to a question concerning the sponsorship program posed by the hon. member for Calgary Southeast, the President of the Treasury Board cited a document which he claimed showed that a grant from the program had been received by the hon. member.

Following question period, the hon. member for Calgary Southeast roseon a point of order and stated that he had not received any such grant and requested that the President of the Treasury Board retract the inaccurate remark.

The President of the Treasury Board then stated that the grant had in fact been made to an organization located in the riding of the hon. member for Calgary Southeast. Following a further request from the hon. member for Calgary Southeast, the President of the Treasury Board tabled the document he had cited concerning the awarding of the grant.

After examining the document tabled by the President of the Treasury Board, the hon. member for Calgary Southeast raised a question of privilege on February 23, 2004. The hon. member for Calgary Southeast stated that a document tabled by the President of the Treasury Board had shown that the reply given to an oral question was false. He therefore accused the President of the Treasury Board of deliberately misleading the House.

The President of the Treasury Board, in replying to the charge against him, maintained that the document in fact supported his position and that an organization in the hon. member's riding had received grants under the sponsorship program over a number of years.

There is clearly a disagreement about how the contents of the document tabled by the President of the Treasury Board are to be interpreted. As hon. members know, it is not the Speaker's role to adjudicate on matters of fact. This is something on which the House itself can form an opinion during debate.

Hon. members will know that a number of questions of this nature have been ruled on by the Chair in recent weeks. It is of course my duty to give members the opportunity to bring forward any suspected violations of our rules and practices through the raising of points of order or questions of privilege, but I am also concerned that the raising of such questions should not become a means to debate what the rules of the House ought to be.

If members are dissatisfied with the rules, they have a variety of means at their disposal to address these issues. Without interfering with the right of hon. members to signal a suspected breach of the rules, I also have a duty to see that the proceedings are not delayed or interrupted unnecessarily. Members will therefore understand that I may, on some occasions, render prompt and succinct decisions in cases of disputes as to facts such as this one, when it is clear to me that no violation of our rules or practices has in fact occurred.

Interparliamentary Delegations
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Compton—Stanstead
Québec

Liberal

David Price Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association.

This is the report of the official delegation that represented Canada at the annual session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly held in Orlando, Florida, from November 7 to November 11, 2003.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the first and second reports of the Standing Committee on Official Languages.

In accordance with its orders of reference on February 19 and February 24, 2004, the committee has considered Vote 25b under Privy Council in the Supplementary Estimates (B) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2004, as well as Vote 30 under Privy Council in the Main Estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2005, and reports the same.

Excise Tax Act
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North Centre, MB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-488, an act to amend the Excise Tax Act.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce this private member's bill which seeks to eliminate the goods and services tax on feminine hygiene products.

The GST on tampons and sanitary napkins amounts to gender-based taxation. Taxing essential and necessary products used exclusively by women is unfair and discriminatory. It unfairly disadvantages women financially solely because of our reproductive role.

The bill would benefit all Canadian women at some point in their lives and would be of particular value to lower income women.

I urge all members to support this initiative.

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

Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Sarnia—Lambton
Ontario

Liberal

Roger Gallaway Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. On February 5 a private member's bill, Bill C-472, was introduced in the name of the member for Winnipeg Centre. At that time you invited comments to be made.

Bill C-472 is entitled an act to amend the Income Tax Act with regard to the deductibility of fines. It proposes to amend the Income Tax Act by removing provisions for the deductibility of fines or penalties imposed by law. I suggest that this private member's bill should be dropped from the Order Paper for the following reason.

The 2000 edition of Marleau and Montpetit House of Commons Procedure and Practice on page 898 speaks to a private member's bill of this nature on this point. It states:

With respect to the raising of revenue, a private Member cannot introduce bills which impose taxes. The power to initiate taxation rests solely with the government and any legislation which seeks an increase in taxation must be preceded by a Ways and Means motion. Only a Minister can bring in a Ways and Means motion.

This is laid out in Standing Order 83.

Bill C-472 was not preceded by a ways and means motion.

On the same page, Marleau and Montpetit cites the following exceptions:

--private Members' bills which reduce taxes, reduce the incidence of a tax, or impose or increase an exemption from taxation are acceptable.

If Bill C-472 is passed, it purports to remove deductions from the Income Tax Act thereby decreasing or eliminating an exemption from taxation. This would increase revenue to the consolidated fund. Therefore it does not fall under the exceptions outlined by Marleau and Montpetit.

I would point out that on April 10, 1997, a very similar private member's bill, Bill C-324, calling for the removal of a tax deduction, was before the House. Upon a point of order raised at that time, the then acting Speaker read the following quote from page 821 of Erskine May's 20th edition:

Matters which are covered by the term 'charges upon the people' may be briefly summarized as... (2) the repeal or reduction of existing alleviations of taxation such as exemptions or drawbacks.

Before Bill C-324 at that time was summarily dropped from the Order Paper, the Speaker again at line 9581 of that day's Hansard stated:

--where there are such changes [to the Income Tax Act] it would appear that ways and means proceedings are necessary and the full scope, that is a resolution, would have to be introduced first, followed by the bill.

I would say that Bill C-472 crosses the bounds set for private member's bills and should be ruled out of order and dropped from the Order Paper.

Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

The Speaker

I thank the hon. parliamentary secretary for his comments. I will take the matter under advisement and return to the House with a ruling in due course.

Business of the House
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Ottawa—Vanier
Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, discussions have taken place between all parties concerning the motion for third reading of Bill C-10 as listed on today's Order Paper.

The Order Paper lists the said motion as moved by Mr. Cotler, Minister of Justice, and seconded by Mr. Assadourian, Brampton Centre. I believe that you would find unanimous consent to have the bill listed as being seconded by Mr. Bagnell, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.

Business of the House
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

The Speaker

Is there unanimous consent for the change in the Order Paper as indicated by the deputy House leader?

Business of the House
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of the House
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Ottawa—Vanier
Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I believe you would find consent for the following motion:

That, at the conclusion of today's debate on the Conservative Opposition Motion, all questions necessary to dispose of this motion be deemed put, a recorded division deemed requested and deferred to the end of government orders on Tuesday, March 9, 2004.

Business of the House
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

The Speaker

Does the hon. Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons have unanimous consent to present the motion?

Business of the House
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of the House
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

The Speaker

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