House of Commons Hansard #90 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was rcmp.

Topics

Infrastructure
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Don Valley West
Ontario

Liberal

John Godfrey Minister of State (Infrastructure and Communities)

Mr. Speaker, I had the pleasure of announcing, with my hon. colleague, the Minister of Transport, a total of $1.2 billion in transfers for infrastructure in Quebec.

I am pleased that Canada and Quebec have announced priorities with respect to the enhancement of highways, including the Dorval interchange, as well as clean drinking water initiatives.

This announcement also included the details of an agreement in principle with Quebec on the municipal rural infrastructure program.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, in this week's Hill Times , the Liberal member for Lambton--Kent--Middlesex called the Gomery commission “stupid”. We all know that the daily confessions of corruption have not made the Liberals across Canada very fearful of Gomery, so here is my question for the Prime Minister. Does he agree with his Liberal colleague that the Gomery commission is in fact stupid or is this not in fact merely a smear campaign to try to besmirch Mr. Gomery's reputation before he has a chance to table his final report?

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Kings—Hants
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the fact is that our government has remained absolutely committed to supporting Justice Gomery's work. We stand shoulder to shoulder with Canadians who want the truth from Justice Gomery, who want the report from Justice Gomery.

The fact is that within this House the only people who really want to see Justice Gomery kneecapped and not given an opportunity to report to Canadians before an election are the separatists and their bedfellows, the Conservatives, who want Canadians to make a decision based on allegations, not on the truth.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, the minister opposite speaks the talk but he does not walk the walk, particularly with respect to his other colleagues. Here is what one of the other colleagues he is talking about says in today's Globe and Mail in reference to Gomery. The member for Victoria said that this is rather small potatoes. He said, “Other countries have serious problems...and we worry about a seven-year-old ripoff of government money”.

Will the Prime Minister finally admit that he has an orchestrated campaign to besmirch the reputation of Justice Gomery and divert Canadians' attention from the real issue, the issue that this is a corrupt government desperately trying to cling to power?

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Kings—Hants
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, in the same direction, let me quote some of the hon. member's colleagues, and in fact the member for Newmarket--Aurora, who said that “voting against the entire budget will impact negatively”. She said, “We can't jeopardize the funding for the infrastructure programs, which include transportation, roads and public transit”. Or perhaps I will quote the member for Cumberland--Colchester--Musquodoboit Valley, who said that “people want to wait until we hear all the evidence from the Gomery commission”.

He ought to listen to his colleagues over there who are saying to let Justice Gomery do his work. That was before they were muzzled by their leader when they returned to Ottawa and were told to forget about what their constituents told them last week.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

I would like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of the Honourable Peter Lougheed, former premier of Alberta and Chancellor Emeritus of Queen's University at Kingston.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Points of Order
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I am now prepared to rule on the point of order raised on Tuesday, April 12 by the hon. member for Newton—North Delta concerning an accusation made by the hon. Minister of Citizenship and Immigration during that day's question period that the hon. member was having constituents post bonds payable to him in exchange for his aid in seeking temporary visitor visas for family members.

I would like to thank the hon. member for raising this matter as well as providing additional information in the form of a letter dated April 20. I would also like to thank the hon. Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and the hon. leader of the official opposition for their interventions.

In presenting his case, the hon. member for Newton—North Delta stated that the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration had accused him of having constituents post bonds payable to him for his intervention on their behalf to acquire visitor visas. This, the hon. member claimed, was absolutely false, and neither he nor his staff had ever done so. The hon. member pointed out that the issue had been erroneously reported in the media and had been corrected. He then asked the hon. minister for an apology.

The remarks referred to had been made by the minister in reply to a question posed by the hon. member for Ajax—Pickering during question period. The hon. member had referred to allegations that $50,000 cheques for bonds were being taken by a member of the House. He asked if the minister was looking into the matter and what he intended to do about it.

In his answer, the minister stated that those were not allegations, but admissions by the member for Newton-North Delta, that it was is a very serious misrepresentation of the immigration system, and that he had asked the ethics commissioner to look into the matter.

During his intervention on the point of order, the hon. minister stated that he had simply read from the transcript of the meeting of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration of March 24, wherein the hon. member for Newton—North Delta had admitted to the actions.

As I promised, I have reviewed the transcript of the committee meeting referred to. In his remarks in the committee during consideration of Bill C-283, an act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, of which he is the sponsor, the hon. member for Newton—North Delta stated categorically that he took no money from anyone, and that in asking constituents to sign a guarantee bond document he was testing the genuineness of their promise to ensure that the visitor for whom they were seeking a visa would leave Canada as required.

Further to this, on April 21 the hon. minister rose in the House to speak to the matter. Noting the importance of conducting its affairs with civility, the minister said he wished to take the opportunity to respond to the point of order. He advised the House that while he felt his initial intervention was worthwhile and stood by his decision to refer the matter to the Ethics Commissioner, he was withdrawing remarks he had made during question period on April 13 in reply to a question from the hon. member for Edmonton--Strathcona suggesting that the hon. member had profited personally from this type of action. I would like to thank the minister for doing so.

In raising this matter, the hon. member has had the opportunity to set the record straight. It seems to the Chair that this is not a point of order but a dispute as to facts. It is not for your Speaker to judge the accuracy of statements that are under dispute. Indeed, it would be inappropriate for me to do so even if I were to want to pronounce further on this case, since I am now in receipt of a communication from the Ethics Commissioner informing me that an inquiry into the matter has been requested.

May I remind the House of section 27(5) of the Conflict of Interest Code, which forms part of our Standing Orders as Appendix 1. It reads as follows:

(5) Once a request for an inquiry has been made to the Ethics Commissioner, Members should respect the process established by this Code and permit it to take place without commenting further on the matter.

Accordingly, further consideration of this matter will be put aside until such time as the process established by our Conflict of Interest Code has run its course.

Once again, I wish to thank the hon. member for bringing this matter to the attention of the House.

The Chair has notice of another question of privilege from the hon. member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

May 3rd, 2005 / 3:10 p.m.

Conservative

John Reynolds West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest this morning to the member for Ajax—Pickering with regard to a concern he had about 10 percenters going to his riding. As we all know in the House, all parties have the privilege of distributing 10 percenters. Parties send them into the ridings of other members. That has been a long-standing practice and I know this is under review by the Board of Internal Economy as to whether it is a proper method of using taxpayer money.

When I arrived home last week for the break, a few of my neighbours saw me in the garden. As there is nice weather in British Columbia, one can do that there. My neighbours came to visit me and asked why they were receiving mail from a Liberal member in North Vancouver in a franked envelope. Inside the envelope was a note from the Prime Minister displaying his name and the B.C. team, talking about the great job they had done across Canada. On the back of this piece of paper it talks about all the grants this Liberal team has given out in my riding.

I do not have a problem with the Liberals doing anything in my riding. However, I have heard the rumour that they think they have a chance next time so they are inundating the riding with mail. It is not just from the member for North Vancouver. I received a fax yesterday from a concerned citizen in another part of my constituency. I sent him back the letter saying that, yes, he got a piece of material from the member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca. It had the same material in it.

I heard from another part of my riding today that some other Liberal member has it going to another part. I can only assume the Liberals are sending these franked envelopes to every home in my riding.

As we all know, a 10 percenter goes out in bulk. Bulk mail is very inexpensive or a minimal cost, and we all have the same rules to follow.

I emailed the House of Commons this morning asking what the rules were. David, the person who works in the House leader's office, sent me the following answer:

This is not an attempt not to answer your question.

House of Commons resources can only be used for carrying out of parliamentary functions. Franking privileges are pursuant to the Canada Post Act and therefore the House of Commons have no jurisdiction.

The Member is accountable and he/she would have to defend the use in court of public opinion. I always advise Members to be careful.

It seems to me that we do not have any real rules when it comes to the frank. It is an absolute affront to the Canadian taxpayer for the Liberal Party to be franking envelopes to every home in my constituency.

I hear some mumbling and groaning, but my party does not send things in envelopes on a mass basis to other ridings. We all do 10 percenters. I do not have a problem with that, but I have a problem with using the frank in a mass mailing basis to the ridings of opposition members or for us to do it in their ridings.

Other matters have been referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs and I believe this matter should go to that committee. I believe my privileges have been affected. I will not be here a lot longer, but if I can help change the rules so we do not waste taxpayer money in this fashion, I would love to be before the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to discuss this issue with the other issues it is discussing.

If you find that I have a prima facie case, Mr. Speaker, I would be prepared to move the proper motion.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is certainly a matter of privilege, although I do not know whether it is a question that you are in a position to resolve today. I have a couple of comments.

The hon. member attempts to make a distinction between communications that are in a franked envelope and communications that go out as part of what we call 10 percenters. We also have householders and perhaps other methods of communication. It has been my perception over the last while that the Board of Internal Economy, and I know the member opposite is very familiar with how that operates, has allowed our system of communications to evolve in a way that fully allows for full exchange of partisan and non-partisan information and communications, and in my view it is getting a little out of hand.

I would like my remarks to be taken here today as an effort to urge the Board of Internal Economy to rein this in. At my residence in Ottawa, I received some very interesting things from the New Democratic Party, which were quite partisan. It is a matter at which I think colleagues in the House will have to look.

There is no sense throwing stones back and forth. It is an area that I believe needs some attention because we are spending a ton of taxpayer money on very partisan communications all over the country, well outside the ridings where these privileges are intended to apply to facilitate communications with our constituents.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country was absolutely correct in the reading of the memorandum that he had from the member of the office of the House leader indicating the confusion surrounding the use of the frank. While hon. members are free to use franking privileges in ways that it is not perhaps for the Speaker or the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to investigate, the material in it is something that the committee in my view can have a look at, especially since it appears it might have been printed here and printed as one of the 10 percenters or some other kind of other publication that members can have printed in the House.

Since there may be confusion on the point, since the matter is currently before the committee because of a reference I made two weeks ago on this very issue and since there might be another one tomorrow, depending on the outcome of a vote on the motion put by the hon. member for Ajax—Pickering, I am prepared to allow the hon. member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country to move a motion to refer the matter to committee. I believe there probably is a question of privilege here.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

John Reynolds West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, I move:

That the matter of the question of privilege raised by the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country on Tuesday, May 3, 2005, be referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-38, an act respecting certain aspects of legal capacity for marriage for civil purposes, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the motion that this question be now put.