House of Commons Hansard #95 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Points of Order
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Points of Order
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Is this not interesting, Mr. Speaker? All day on the opposition side we have gone without heckling and we see what kind of reciprocation we get from the opposite side.

As for what constitutes fair comment in the public domain based on sworn testimony and Liberal confessions, we have no compunction about repeating such matters of public record here in the House of Commons, where free speech prevails.

Points of Order
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, I think it would be useful to remind hon. members of what our rules are. Marleau and Montpetit states at page 77:

There are only two kinds of institutions in this land to which this awesome and far-reaching privilege [of freedom of speech] extends--Parliament and the legislatures on the one hand and the courts on the other. These institutions enjoy the protection of absolute privilege because of the overriding need to ensure that the truth can be told, that any questions can be asked....

Such a privilege confers grave responsibilities on those who are protected by it. By that I mean specifically the Hon. Members of this place. The consequences of its abuse can be terrible. Innocent people could be slandered with no redress available to them. Reputations could be destroyed on the basis of false rumour. All Hon. Members are conscious of the care they must exercise in availing themselves of their absolute privilege of freedom of speech. That is why there are long-standing practices and traditions observed in this House to counter the potential for abuse.

Points of Order
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I indicated to the hon. member for Ahuntsic yesterday that I would get back to her on this point if necessary. I have heard additional submissions. I will get back to the House in due course in respect of these matters.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Question Period

May 10th, 2005 / 3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I would like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of the Honourable Olayuk Akesuk, Minister of the Environment of Nunavut, and the Honourable Ed Picco, Minister of Education of Nunavut.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Points of Order
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

St. Paul's
Ontario

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Minister of State (Public Health)

Mr. Speaker, I rise to state that in my excitement about returning from Nursing Week and the fabulous public health nurses in Ottawa, I ran into the House and reflexively stood up to vote. My vote of this morning should not count.

Points of Order
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

Is it agreed that the name of the Minister of State for Public Health be removed from the list of those who voted in this morning's vote?

Points of Order
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Points of Order
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

The Chair has notice of a question of privilege from the hon. member for York West.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on a question of personal privilege. Members will recall that on January 14, 2005, I resigned as Minister of Citizenship and Immigration after serious allegations were made against me relating to Harjit Singh and his immigration situation.

At the time these allegations were made, I had decided to step down as Minister of Citizenship and Immigration in order to clear my name. On January 31, 2005, I commenced legal action against Harjit Singh and others as a result of false and outrageous statements made against me.

Today I am pleased to say that all legal proceedings between Harjit Singh and I and others have been settled. As part of the settlement, I received a full and complete retraction from Harjit Singh and public apologies from all of the defendants.

I now wish to read Harjit Singh's public apology and retraction into the record. It states:

“I, Harjit Singh, wish to provide a full and complete apology and retraction to Judy Sgro for statements made by me or attributed to me by the media in connection with my immigration situation. I now admit that I did not have a meeting with Judy Sgro. Further, at no time did Judy Sgro request any campaign assistance from me, nor did she help me with my immigration problem.

I am providing this apology and retraction voluntarily and of my own free will, having been provided with independent legal advice. I would like to say that I sincerely regret any statements that may in any way have tarnished Judy Sgro's privileges as a Member of the House of Commons, and further sincerely regret any embarrassment or pain caused to Judy Sgro by my statements, which were completely false”.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. The hon. member for York West has the floor.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, the apology and retraction by Mr. Singh continues: “I am aware and consent to the fact that this apology and retraction may be released to the media for publication. I ask that my privacy and that of my family be respected. I will not be making any further comments to the media regarding this matter”. It is signed before a witness by Harjit Singh.

Mr. Speaker, the allegations and the personal attacks made against my integrity and my reputation as an individual were very difficult for my family and I, as they would be for anyone in the House. I am grateful to everyone who supported me during these difficult times. I very much appreciate the support of my constituents in my riding of York West and my colleagues in the House of Commons.

This situation should serve as a reminder to all that before we pass judgment on the alleged conduct of individuals, we should first have all the facts. Reputations should not be tarnished by unsubstantiated allegations and innuendo solely for partisan politics.

All of us as hon. members in the House should use caution to ensure that we do not abuse the immunity that the House provides. This honourable institution should never be used to propagate smear campaigns and personal attacks against anyone regardless of what side of the House one is on.

I also wish to report to the House that after an extensive investigation by the Ethics Commissioner, he has concluded that I acted appropriately in the situation involving Ms. Balaican. The Ethics Commissioner's report fully supports what I have said from the very beginning, which is that I acted appropriately and did not breach any ethical guidelines, that I had never met with Ms. Balaican, nor was I ever aware that she had volunteered on my campaign.

He stated that my decision to grant the minister's permit was based on reasons entirely consistent with the criteria that I had been using as a minister in determining all other requests seeking my intervention.

Once again, I would like to take the opportunity to thank the many people across Canada who provided me with support and well wishes. Most important, I want to thank our Prime Minister, one, for accepting my decision to step down, and two, for his unwavering support both politically and personally.

Mr. Speaker, I respectfully ask for unanimous consent to table the public retraction and apologies from Singh and the other defendant, as well as the report from Dr. Bernard Shapiro, our Ethics Commissioner.

I thank you, Mr. Speaker, and all of my colleagues.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

Does the hon. member for York West have the unanimous consent of the House to table the documents she referred to?