House of Commons Hansard #86 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was estimates.

Topics

Official Languages
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for Official Languages.

On April 11, the members of the House passed, with a huge majority, Bill S-3, which I sponsored, at second reading. However, now, the Conservative members are turning around and postponing consideration of the bill in committee.

Can the minister help us deal with the Conservative members, who are engaging in petty politics at the expense of francophones living in a minority situation in Canada? Can he help us deal with this?

Official Languages
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Ottawa—Vanier
Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, 35 years after this country was declared officially bilingual, the official opposition has finally said yes; supposedly, it gave its okay at its convention in March. I say supposedly because, yesterday, we saw clear evidence to the contrary, when a Conservative-Bloc alliance tried to indefinitely postpone this bill, which would improve the lives of official language minority communities in Canada. Its true position is clear.

As for our government and our party, these communities know that they have been able to rely on us in the past, they can rely on us now and they will be able to rely on us in the future.

Airline Industry
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Art Hanger Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, since 1992 the Calgary Airport Authority has paid more than $250 million in airport rent for a facility that was valued at that time at $118 million. The federal government's contribution over that time has been zero. Instead, Calgary's rent will increase by a whopping 125% to $56 million, charges that will undoubtedly be passed on to the travelling public and the beleaguered airline industry.

My question is for the Minister of Transport. For once, will the government support the airline industry and our local airports--

Airline Industry
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Minister of Transport.

Airline Industry
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Outremont
Québec

Liberal

Jean Lapierre Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the Deputy Prime Minister has made so many representations on this topic that I know we are going to have some action. I am working diligently with the Minister of Finance and this issue will be solved.

Airline Industry
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Art Hanger Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, it has been a long time coming and I do not think the minister is paying attention to all the CEOs of the airport authorities.

The government continues to use airports to extract a hidden tax from air travellers and the airline industry. El Al, Israel's national airline, has already warned that if the costs keep rising, it might be forced to drop Canada from its roster. On top of all this, Air Canada and even WestJet are having trouble operating in this overtaxed industry.

Can the Minister of Transport explain to this House how higher airport rents benefit the airline industry in Canada?

Airline Industry
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Outremont
Québec

Liberal

Jean Lapierre Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, because of the representations of this caucus and of airport authorities across the country, we will find a more equitable formula before the end of June.

Correctional Service of Canada
Oral Question Period

April 20th, 2005 / 3:05 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, in its latest budget, specifically in annex 8, the government proposes changes to the Income Tax Regulations to increase the maximum pension benefit accrual rate from 2% to 2.33% for public safety occupations, including correctional officers. This measure is retroactive to January 1, 2005.

Why, after making this promise in the budget, is the President of the Treasury Board refusing to negotiate with the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers?

Correctional Service of Canada
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Winnipeg South
Manitoba

Liberal

Reg Alcock President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, we are in constant dialogue with the union, the CSN. Staff report that progress is being made. We will reach a conclusion when both sides are satisfied that we have reached an agreement.

Infrastructure
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Alan Tonks York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of State for Infrastructure and Communities.

Last week the Government of Canada announced the first bilateral agreement in the delivery of the promised new deal for cities and communities in British Columbia.

With agreements reportedly close to being signed with Nova Scotia, Manitoba and Alberta, can the minister inform the House on the status of negotiations with the province of Ontario, where the Government of Canada is committed to delivering $1.9 billion over the next five years to cities and communities across the province?

Infrastructure
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Don Valley West
Ontario

Liberal

John Godfrey Minister of State (Infrastructure and Communities)

Mr. Speaker, as the member properly notes, we signed a fantastic deal on Friday with British Columbia and the Union of British Columbia Municipalities.

Negotiations are proceeding well with Ontario and indeed right across the country in every province and territory. However, the money will not flow if the budget does not pass.

I ask the members opposite to hearken to the words of the mayor of Regina, “This budget should not be used as a political pawn”. I would listen to the mayor of Toronto who said, “It would be a huge setback if the gas tax money did not flow”, and the mayor of Vancouver who said, “It would be crazy and stupid to call an election when funding for cities hangs in the balance”.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

I am now prepared to rule on the question of privilege raised on Monday, April 4 by the hon. member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell arising from a question by the hon. member for Calgary—Nose Hill during that day's question period in which the hon. member made reference to a Liberal member of the House being under criminal investigation.

I would like to thank the hon. member for raising this matter. I would also like to thank the hon. member for Calgary--Nose Hill for her intervention.

In presenting his case, the hon. member for Glengarry--Prescott--Russell stated that during question period, when posing a supplementary question to the hon. Minister of Citizenship and Immigration about a matter involving possible abuses of the temporary resident permit system, the hon. member for Calgary--Nose Hill mentioned that a Liberal member had been under criminal investigation but without naming the member. The hon. member for Glengarry--Prescott--Russell felt this was inappropriate as it “cast a net on every single one of us on this side of the House of Commons” and asked that the hon. member for Calgary--Nose Hill withdraw the reference she made in her question.

In reply, the hon. member for Calgary--Nose Hill stated that her remarks were based on an article found in the Globe and Mail newspaper for March 31 and she quoted from it. I have myself read this press report and note that immediately following the text quoted by the hon. member for Calgary--Nose Hill, another press report states that the named Liberal member denied the allegations made against himself or herself and also states that the RCMP had carried out several interviews but had not talked to the Liberal member in question nor had laid charges.

It seems to me significant that the reported police investigation did not even go as far as talking to the member against whom the allegations had been made and, further to this, that no charges were laid. It is also important to note that the press report does not mention a “criminal” investigation of the Liberal member, in the sense that the Liberal member was suspected of committing a criminal act. Rather, the press report indicates only that allegations made against the member were being investigated. It is possible that the allegations were of interest to the RCMP in relation to suspected criminal activities by persons other than the member named.

For these reasons, I am concerned that all hon. members be mindful of the injury that may be done by quoting in the House media reports about other members. All members of Parliament are hon. members and are entitled to be treated with respect in this chamber and to be given the benefit of the doubt regarding allegations of such a serious nature.

At first glance, the situation here seems to be one where the sub judice convention might apply and constrain members from making the kind of comments made here. However, the difficulty in this matter is that it falls below the threshold for application of the sub judice convention by which members are restrained from making any comments in this House relating to a matter that is before the courts because the convention only applies once charges have been laid. The reference by the hon. member for Calgary--Nose Hill was to a criminal investigation, without any reference to charges being laid against the Liberal member, and before any charges were laid. Furthermore, charges have not been laid since.

Members of Parliament as elected public figures are often subject to criticisms and comments in the media which, on occasion, rightly or wrongly reflect poorly on their actions, if not also their character. The usual rules about defamation do not apply, at least not to the same extent, in respect to members of Parliament. We are expected to accept public criticism and unfavourable personal comment from time to time, however difficult this might be. This applies inside this Chamber as well. However, parliamentary custom expects members not to impugn the character of other members. The mention of a criminal investigation of a Liberal member would seem to have this effect, though the hon. member for Calgary--Nose Hill may not have intended this.

I cannot find that there is a prima facie breach of privilege in this case as I cannot see that the ability of the Liberal members of Parliament to carry out their duties has been impaired. I would encourage all hon. members, however, to respect the usual courtesies and practices of this House, and I would invite the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to review the application of the sub judice convention as to whether it should also apply when an investigation is alleged or reported before charges are laid, which is a little more work for the committee.

Interparliamentary Delegations
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

I have the honour to lay upon the table the report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation on its visit to Jamaica from February 28 to March 2, 2005, and I have the honour to lay upon the table the report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation on its visit to the Commonwealth of the Bahamas from March 2-4, 2005.

Certificates of Nomination
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Beauséjour
New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 110(2), I am tabling two certificates of nomination. Both certificates would be referred to the Standing Committee on Transport.

The first one is a certificate of nomination with respect to the Ridley Terminals Inc. The second certificate is with respect to the Great Lakes Pilotage Authority.

Canadian Forces Members and Veterans Re-establishment and Compensation Act
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Mississauga East—Cooksville
Ontario

Liberal

Albina Guarnieri Minister of Veterans Affairs

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-45, an act to provide services, assistance and compensation to or in respect of Canadian Forces members and veterans and to make amendments to certain Acts.

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