House of Commons Hansard #96 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was liberal.

Topics

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

Order. We have moved on to the next question. The hon. member for Kenora has the floor.

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Roger Valley Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, recently there has been some uncertainty concerning the future of the urban multipurpose aboriginal youth centre initiative. The program is important to aboriginal youth across Canada, particularly in my riding. For example, the Ne´Chee Friendship Centre in Kenora serves approximately 250 aboriginal youth with important projects that help restore their cultural identity.

Can the Minister of Canadian Heritage provide the House with some details of her department's plans for the future of this very important initiative?

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Jeanne-Le Ber
Québec

Liberal

Liza Frulla Minister of Canadian Heritage and Minister responsible for Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, indeed this was a matter of great concern for the aboriginal people so I am pleased to announce the extension of the urban multipurpose aboriginal youth centre initiative for $125 million for the next five years.

This means the activity of engaging urban aboriginal youth to improve their personal prospects will continue until 2010. I am meeting the president of the friendship centres on Friday because they are very important in dispensing the program.

This commitment is included in the 2005 budget which I urge my colleagues to support.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Question Period

May 11th, 2005 / 3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I wish to draw the attention of members to the presence in our gallery of the His Excellency Amadou Toumani Touré, President of the Republic of Mali.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

I am now prepared to rule on the question of privilege raised by the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Social Development concerning comments made by the hon. members for Calgary—Nose Hill, Simcoe—Grey, and Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam during the question periods of Monday, May 9 and Tuesday, May 10, critical of individuals who are not members of the House.

I would like to thank the hon. member for raising this matter, as well as the hon. President of the Treasury Board, the deputy House leader of the official opposition and the hon. member for Calgary—Nose Hill for their interventions.

On both occasions when the matter was raised, I indicated that I would take it under advisement, check the transcripts, and get back to the House. I have done so and am now prepared to rule.

In her initial submission on May 9, the hon. parliamentary secretary stated that during question period that day, the hon. member for Calgary—Nose Hill had made accusations about an individual who does not sit in the House and who cannot respond to the allegations. Yesterday following question period she rose again to complain of unfair criticism of the same individual by the hon. members for Simcoe—Grey and Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam.

In her initial comments the hon. parliamentary secretary drew the attention of the Chair to pages 76 to 78 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice concerning the misuse of freedom of speech. She cited a ruling by Mr. Speaker Fraser quoted in Marleau and Montpetit where he urged members to exercise extreme caution when referring to individuals who are not members of the House. The same text was also quoted by the hon. President of the Treasury Board on Tuesday.

The hon. parliamentary secretary called upon the official opposition, and in particular the hon. member for Calgary—Nose Hill, to refrain from impugning motives and making accusations and allegations about people who could not defend themselves in the chamber.

Yesterday, the hon. parliamentary secretary again urged the Speaker to ask members to refrain from mentioning those who do not have the protection of the House.

In his intervention on Monday, the hon. deputy House leader of the official opposition stated that in his opinion the questions were in order and that it was legitimate to comment on testimony before a quasi-judicial inquiry. He repeated this again yesterday, noting that the opposition had no compunction about repeating here in the House of Commons, where free speech prevails, comments in the public domain based on sworn testimony.

The sage advice of Mr. Speaker Fraser quoted on Monday and yesterday by the hon. parliamentary secretary and the hon. President of the Treasury Board addressed what he calls the grave responsibilities on those who are protected by the absolute privilege of freedom of speech.

I have reviewed the full context of that quotation and wish to draw to the attention of the House the fact that these remarks of Mr. Speaker Fraser refer to statements or allegations initiated by members in the House itself. However, the remarks that offend the hon. parliamentary secretary make reference to testimony given in a public forum, before an inquiry, and widely reported in various media.

I have carefully reviewed the situation to ensure that the references made here in the House are already in the public domain and I am satisfied that this is indeed the case. If the disputed statements were thus not linked to reports in the public domain, I might be inclined to view the matter quite differently. However, under these circumstances I fail to see how I, as your Speaker, can enjoin members from referring at all to this testimony or to these media reports, all of it already public. To do so would be to impose upon the members of this House restrictions that go well beyond the normal restrictions that apply outside this House.

That said, I will continue to urge hon. members to be more judicious in their language and more temperate in their arguments, as I always do. However, I can find no prima facie case of privilege in the matter raised by the hon. parliamentary secretary at this time, although of course we will continue to monitor the questions to ensure that the material mentioned in them is already in the public domain.

I thank all hon. members for allowing me to clarify this matter.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the ruling, but at the same time you did say at the end that we must caution hon. members in terms as to the extent. I would like to know if “in the public domain” means that any Canadian citizen's name appearing in any public domain forum in fact can be used in this House in the way that a name was used by certain hon. members in this House. They are not prepared to do it outside. There must be some limit in terms of the freedom of speech in this House.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

I think if tomorrow, the hon. member for Ahuntsic reviews the ruling I just gave, she will see, as I believe, that I have answered her question. If allegations are made in a courtroom, those allegations can be repeated in the media, however damaging they may be to the individuals they concern, and the media cannot be sued for reporting what happens in a public inquiry. It seems to me, to give a very brief explanation, if those same comments are then repeated here in the House of Commons, if the same allegations are repeated in the House of Commons, it has not changed things.

What I am concerned about, as I stated, were comments about other people who have not had their names bandied about in a public inquiry or in a court, where the matter can already be reported. The report should not start on something that happens here. I think that is clear from reading my judgment, if I can put it perhaps in layman's terms.

The hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst has a question of privilege. I am going to hear him now.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege.

A ten percenter was sent by the Conservatives in the riding of Windsor West. The question of privilege was debated in the House of Commons. You recommended that the issue be referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. That recommendation was accepted and the committee worked to settle the issue.

Yesterday, following oral question period, another question of privilege was raised by Conservatives who were not pleased about a ten percenter in their riding, and the member for Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley disclosed comments that were made when the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs was sitting in camera. This is in violation of the rules as stated in Marleau and Montpetit, where it says, “May 14, 1987, ...the divulgation by John Parry (Kenora—Rainy River) of the results of a recorded vote held at an in camera meeting of the standing committee”.

Yesterday, the Conservative member violated that rule. I will not get into further details, because I do not want to take the time of the House of Commons, but I am asking for your opinion on this issue. My recommendation would be to refer the issue to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, since there was unquestionably a violation of the committee's privileges as has already been recognized in this House.

Yesterday, the member told the House of Commons, and I quote:

The unit could not say to what ridings the 10 percenters went or who got them. It could not say how to reach back and correct that. Therefore, today we passed a motion in the committee for the House of Commons to issue an apology to the communities involved with this. I think that was the proper way to deal with it.

That is a direct violation of the in-camera meeting that we had. Mr. Speaker, I want you to give a ruling on this situation.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Bill Casey North Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, if I inadvertently made statements I should not have, I certainly apologize for that and withdraw them.

We went on for some time and allegations were made that a Conservative member of Parliament deliberately mailed a householder into another riding, which he did not do. He did not deliberately do that. It was not his fault. The House of Commons postal unit came to our committee and apologized for it, but if I did say anything that I should not have said, I certainly apologize. I did not mean to do that.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:20 p.m.

The Speaker

I thank the hon. member for his apology, but it seems to me that this is a matter for the procedure and House affairs committee to consider.

If the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst wishes to raise this point in committee, the latter can prepare a report on the situation and present it to the House for consideration. Normally, committee members raise this point of privilege. This may have been the purpose of the point of privilege raised by the hon. member.

In my opinion, the committee should consider this matter before the House does. It is not the responsibility of the Chair to compare what happened in committee with what the hon. member has just said. I did not see the committee transcripts. I cannot proceed until the report has been presented.

The hon. member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean on a point of order.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to draw the attention of the House to a motion. I believe you would find consent for the following order:

That the proceedings on the motion for second reading and referral to the Standing Committee on Finance of Bill C-43 conclude at 4:30 p.m. this afternoon;

That all questions necessary to dispose of second reading of this bill be deemed put;

That a recorded division be deemed requested and deferred until 5:30 p.m. today;

That the proceedings on the motion for second reading and referral to the Standing Committee on Finance of Bill C-48 conclude at 5:29 p.m. this afternoon;

That all the questions necessary to dispose of second reading of this bill be deemed put;

That a recorded division be deemed requested and deferred until 5:30 p.m. today.

I therefore seek the consent—

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:20 p.m.

The Speaker

Does the hon. member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean have the unanimous consent of the House?

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.