House of Commons Hansard #72 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was sexual.

Topics

Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mr. Speaker, that is, as is always the case with the member opposite, patently false. The position which he spoke of in New Brunswick was filled by a competent, long serving member of the public service who went through an advertised, competitive process, advertised on the ACOA website, and decided upon by an independent board that was appointed by the previous government.

This type of allegation is completely untrue. We are doing things differently. We are putting competent, professional public servants in place to administer the programs in Atlantic Canada.

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Nina Grewal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Mr. Speaker, for 13 years the Liberals were shamefully breaking the promises they made to immigrants and Canadians. They promised to increase immigration but left 800,000 waiting in line to come here. The Liberals closed the funding that helps admitted immigrants improve their English or French languages as well as adapt to life in their communities.

Could the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration tell us whether new immigrants have a cause for hope that is not repeating the mistakes of the old Liberal government?

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Medicine Hat
Alberta

Conservative

Monte Solberg Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, immigrants have lots of cause for hope and the member did not go far enough. The Liberals introduced the head tax and then broke their promise to cut it. They promised to give work permits to off campus students but they broke that promise.

Under this new government, we have cut the head tax in half. Students can now get those off campus work permits. The Minister of Human Resources is working on foreign credentials. We have passed $307 million in new spending for settlement funding, something the Liberals voted against. They should be ashamed.

Canadian Wheat Board
Oral Questions

October 30th, 2006 / 2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Agriculture has indicated that his stacked task force has tabled a report with him on the Canadian Wheat Board.

Will the minister at least confirm to the House that whatever recommendations are considered will not happen unless and until the farmers have a vote on a clear question as related to that report?

Canadian Wheat Board
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon
B.C.

Conservative

Chuck Strahl Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, Canada's new government is committed to marketing choice for farmers and we are also committed to a strong voluntary Wheat Board, something that farmers want and something that this side of the House is very determined to make happen.

I was very pleased that I could make the task force report public today. I am sure farmers and other industry experts, perhaps even the member for Malpeque, will find something interesting in there. I look forward to contributions as we examine that report.

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Johanne Deschamps Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, the newspapers report that Jean Bosco Rwiyamirira, a Rwandan who was named volunteer of the year in Quebec in 2005 and who sought political asylum, was deported from Canada on October 3. He has reportedly been imprisoned in the Rwandan capital for more than a week now. His children, aged 10 and 14, who were deported with him, have apparently been left to their own devices in Africa.

How can the government justify the decision to deport this Rwandan, given that he had sought political asylum because he feared for his safety in his country of origin?

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Medicine Hat
Alberta

Conservative

Monte Solberg Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, when refugee claim applications are made, these applications are all determined by independent officers. If someone meets the criteria as a refugee they are accepted. Pre-removal risk assessments are also done to determine if people are in danger.

If there are incidents where people will be endangered when they are returned to their home countries, obviously Canada will do everything it can to ensure their safety.

Labour
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canada's manufacturing sector is being decimated and governments are standing idly by as industrial plants close and their workers become Wal-Mart greeters.

In the last Parliament, all parties agreed that the wages, pensions and collective agreements of workers needed to be protected when companies shut down.

Bill C-55 passed through the House but the Liberals refused to proclaim it into law.

If the government will not live up to its responsibility to develop an industrial strategy to save Canadian jobs, will the Minister of Labour at least do right by Canadian workers and bring forward the bill that would protect the benefits they have already earned?

Labour
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma
Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn Minister of Labour and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec

Mr. Speaker, to effectively protect workers when a company goes bankrupt, we are looking at a bill where people could receive up to $3,000. We are currently drafting the procedures, and we should be able to report on our progress to this House very soon. We hope to be able to so do by Christmas.

Decorum--Speaker's Ruling
Privilege
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I am now prepared to rule on the question of privilege raised on Wednesday, October 25, 2006 by the hon. member for Wascana concerning comments allegedly made by the hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs last Thursday, October 19, 2006.

I would like to thank the hon. member for raising this matter as well as the hon. Government House Leader for his response for it gives me the opportunity to clarify the very limited role that the Speaker can play in situations of this sort.

First, let us review the events to date. On October 19, the hon. member for Bourassa rose on a point of order to object to remarks he alleged were made by the hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs. He was supported by the hon. member for Ajax—Pickering. Since I had not heard the remarks complained of, I undertook, as I would usually do in such cases, to review the record and return to the House if necessary.

On October 20, the hon. member for Newmarket—Aurora rose on a point of order and, quoting Standing Order 18, sought an apology for offensive and disrespectful remarks allegedly made by the Minister of Foreign Affaire the previous day. The Chair responded as follows:

--the news of these statements is something that is new to me because I did not hear the comments or see any of the gestures that are alleged to have taken place.

My staff have carefully reviewed the audio tapes of question period and the written transcript of Hansard, which I myself have seen, and of course there is no reference to these words in either. So I am unable to confirm any of the suggestions that have been made. I know several members say that they heard these remarks.

However, in the circumstances, there is nothing further I can do at this time.

Now the House leader of the official opposition has risen on a question of privilege on this same matter and has provided the Chair with affidavits signed by several hon. members stating that they heard the offending remarks.

In the meantime, of course, as the House knows, audio clips of the October 19 proceedings have been aired in the media. Indeed, a transcript of one such report has been sent to me by the hon. member for Newmarket—Aurora.

However, last Wednesday, when asked by the hon. House leader of the official opposition to apologize, the hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs replied:

I made no such gesture. I made no derogatory or discriminatory remarks toward any member of the House.

The hon. member for Mississauga South argues that the Chair might refer this matter to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs so that the Committee can get at the truth in these competing claims. Even if I were so inclined, it is not for the Chair to refer matters to a committee but for the House to take that decision.

Historically, when a member has made a remark considered unparliamentary or inappropriate, the Speaker has asked the member to withdraw or rephrase the comment. Standing Order 18 prohibits disrespectful or offensive language against a member of the House and, as Marleau and Montpetit states at page 522:

A member will be requested to withdraw offensive remarks...directed toward another member.

But such action by the Chair—that is, requesting an apology or a withdrawal—is predicated on a common agreement about what actually took place, either because the exchange appears in the official record or because both parties acknowledge that the exchange took place.

In this case, the official record is not helpful and the Speaker is faced with a dispute, indeed a contradiction, about what actually happened. Some hon. members insist that they heard the offensive remarks; the hon. minister denies making them.

In examining the precedents, I find guidance in a ruling delivered on December 12, 1991 by Mr. Speaker Fraser. At pages 6218 and 6219 of the Debates, he stated:

The Chair is faced with a dispute and is unable to resolve it. When the official records are not supportive of the allegations, I am convinced that it is not the duty of the Chair to try and resolve it. As far as I am concerned from a procedural point of view and in keeping with our conventions the matter is closed.

In the circumstances, I have listened very carefully to the arguments presented, notably by the hon. member for Wascana who contended:

The privileges of members of this House are thus being infringed: first, by the lingering untruth; and, second, by the inability of the minister, apparently, to be believed.

While I may agree with the hon. member that the circumstances surrounding this situation are most regrettable, it is not clear to me how they prevent hon. members from accomplishing their work. Since I fail to see how the privileges of the House have been breached by this unfortunate situation, I cannot conclude that a prima facie breach of privilege has occurred.

This conclusion is consistent with Speakers Lamoureux and Jerome who, in rulings delivered on June 8, 1970, Journals page 966, and on June 4, 1975, Journals page 600 respectively, both quote citation 113 of Beauchesne's fourth edition, which states that:

--a dispute arising between two members, as to allegations of facts, does not fulfill the conditions of parliamentary privilege.

Mr. Speaker Jerome, again on June 4, 1975, Journals page 601, further concluded that serious dispute and disagreement about facts and their implications or significance are “ingredients for debate and not ingredients for a question of privilege”.

In the case before the House now, the remarks may or may not have been said. However, it is not for the Speaker to decide where the truth lies.

I regret that the Chair can offer no remedy to the House, particularly as it seems apparent that the situation does nothing to enhance the reputation of the House of Commons and its members. Members on all sides of the House have commented on the erosion of mutual respect in the House. As was stated by the chief government whip on October 20, it is incumbent upon all of us to work harder toward maintaining decorum in this chamber.

I believe we would do well to recall the words of Mr. Speaker Fraser on December 11, 1991 when he said:

Few things can more embitter the mood of the House than a series of personal attacks, for in their wake they leave a residue of animosity and unease.

I appeal, therefore, to all hon. members to be judicious in their language and avoid personal attacks on other members, so that they do not bring themselves and this House into disrepute.

As for this particular case, in keeping with the rulings of my predecessors, Messrs. Lamoureux, Jerome and Fraser, I must now consider the matter closed.

Decorum--Speaker's Ruling
Privilege
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, relating to comments made by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister last Thursday that were indeed inaccurate, I wish to table documentation to that effect to demonstrate that the comments made last Thursday were indeed inaccurate.

Decorum--Speaker's Ruling
Privilege
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Does the hon. member for Ajax—Pickering have the unanimous consent of the House to table this document?

Decorum--Speaker's Ruling
Privilege
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

A message from Her Excellency the Governor General transmitting supplementary estimates (A) for the financial year ending March 31, 2007, was presented by the President of the Treasury Board and read by the Speaker to the House.

Supplementary Estimates (A), 2006–07
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, I have a message from Her Excellency the Governor General, signed by the Deputy of the Governor General.