House of Commons Hansard #3 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was speech.

Topics

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Simcoe—Grey
Ontario

Conservative

Helena Guergis Secretary of State (Foreign Affairs and International Trade) (Sport)

Mr. Speaker, I am absolutely aware of this issue. In fact, I have been in regular contact through correspondence on Mr. Itzhayek's case with the critic for the Liberal Party. I can assure the hon. member that consular affairs has been in regular contact with him, with his family and with his lawyer. We have ensured that he is provided the consular services he is entitled to.

The Environment
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

Bruce Stanton Simcoe North, ON

Mr. Speaker, in budget 2007, our government took action to improve the water we drink, clean polluted waters, help maintain water levels in the Great Lakes, protect our ecosystems, and ensure the sustainability of our fish resources. In fact, just last week I was with the Minister of the Environment and the government House leader when they announced $12 million for the cleanup of Lake Simcoe in central Ontario.

I would like to ask the Minister of the Environment if he could tell the House what additional actions our government has taken to protect our precious rivers, lakes and oceans.

The Environment
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the government is taking real action on environmental remediation to help clean our waters.

It was the Liberal Party that voted against funding to help support Lake Simcoe and the cleanup there. I know the member was as shocked as I was and the next time we go to Lake Simcoe we will invite the member for Wascana.

We are also putting major resources into cleaning up our oceans and our Great Lakes. For the first time ever, we are going to be banning raw sewage from being dumped into Canada's oceans, rivers and lakes. The previous government did not get it done. This government is delivering real results for the environment.

Equalization Payments
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Independent

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Mr. Speaker, I just sent to the Minister of Finance a chart of the projections prepared by the Government of Nova Scotia relating to its interpretation of how much money it will get out of the new exchange of letters. Will the minister confirm that the provincial chart I just sent him is the same as the federal projections?

Also, the exchange of letters says the amendments to legislation will be made but they do not say what legislation will be amended. Will the minister tell us what legislation will be amended as a result of the exchange of letters?

Equalization Payments
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay Minister of National Defence and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mr. Speaker, the agreement that has been reached between the Province of Nova Scotia and the Government of Canada has been overwhelmingly positive in the response. The specifics the member is referring to will be made public.

The reality is that much of these charts, these projections, are based on assumptions. We do know that the legislation that has to be amended will include the Budget Implementation Act. Currently there are discussions happening between the province and Ottawa.

I just want to quote for the record what the Premier of Nova Scotia says. He is satisfied that the federal government will follow through with its promise and introduce legislation to implement the changes. Former Premier Hamm also said last week that it “fits very nicely with the original accord”. This is a positive outcome.

Conservative Party of Canada
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, the member for Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley is standing up for his constituents and for Nova Scotia.

The Prime Minister, in 2005, said that parachuting candidates into a local riding association against the wishes of that riding association “demeans...democracy”.

The riding association of Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley has nominated and reaffirmed the nomination of the member for Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley.

How can the Prime Minister be taken seriously on democratic reform when his own actions, according to his own words, demean democracy?

Conservative Party of Canada
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, it is always amusing to have a Liberal talk about democracy in his party. That is the party that championed the notion of candidates being appointed over the objections of local riding associations.

I cannot understand how this is a matter of government business, but let me tell members that the Conservative Party national council is dealing with the matter in the appropriate fashion in the interests of the Conservative Party membership.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I would like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of His Excellency Degefe Bula, the Speaker of the House of the Federation of the Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have two questions actually related to House business, one arising from the question period that we have just finished. During question period the Secretary of State for Multiculturalism quoted specifically from his BlackBerry.

There is a tradition of this House that material that is directly quoted from needs to be tabled in this House of Commons. I would ask the government House leader to ensure that the BlackBerry of the hon. Secretary of State for Multiculturalism be tabled forthwith.

Second, I wonder with respect to the work of the House whether the government House leader could indicate his plans for the rest of this week and all of next week, including Friday, which up to today remains an unspecified business day. What we will be doing all of this week, next week and Friday of next week specifically? And if he also could be kind enough to indicate to us what his general plan would be for the following week that would take us to the Remembrance Day break.

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Calgary Southeast
Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney Secretary of State (Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity)

Mr. Speaker, I see that the opposition House leader continues to have a particular fascination with my BlackBerry. I think this is the second time he has asked me to table an electronic device.

I know he still in many respects lives in the 19th century, but most members actually use the BlackBerry as a device for informative purposes. I am happy to table a printout of the document from which I was reading.

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, for the remainder of the week and throughout next week the government will continue to build a better Canada for all of us by debating and ultimately voting on the Speech from the Throne.

We are calling this a mandate to govern week. Canada's greatest strength lies in its ideas and its energy, and its determination to move forward and build a better future.

Our government is committed to showing strong leadership to guarantee our future. We will debate our ideas for a Canada that is proud of its place in the world and that faces its economic future confidently; a Canada founded on a solid federation and a strong democracy; a Canada that is a safe place for families and a healthy place for children.

To move forward on these priorities the government will devote each day of debate on the throne speech to the five core priorities outlined in it.

Today the government is debating our plan to tackle violent crime and strength the security of Canadians. We kicked off debate by introducing the tackling violent crime act which will combine justice bills from the last session of Parliament into one single, comprehensive bill.

The bill demonstrates that our government is serious about the need to better protect youth from sexual predators, to protect our communities from dangerous offenders, get serious with drug impaired drivers, and toughen sentencing and bail for those who commit serious gun crimes. We hope the opposition does not attempt to obstruct and delay this legislation as it did with justice bills during the last session.

Tomorrow will be about strengthening Canada's sovereignty and place in the world. Government members will provide the House with a plan that will reflect the government's resolve to protect our sovereignty and our rich heritage.

Monday will be devoted to strengthening the federation and our democratic institutions, to ensure that our institutions reflect the shared commitment of Canadians to democracy.

On Tuesday we will highlight to Canadians how our government is providing effective economic leadership which will lead to a prosperous future.

We will devote Wednesday, the last day of debate on the throne speech, to improving the environment and health of Canadians.

Finally, Thursday, October 25 will be an allotted day.

As for the period of time after that, we have yet to schedule that. We of course have been awaiting further indications of what we would have at the end of the throne speech and we know it took a long time to get a sense from the opposition on where it was going, until approximately 4 p.m. yesterday.

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The Chair has notice of a question of privilege from the hon. member for Skeena--Bulkley Valley. I will hear from the hon. member now.

Alleged impediment in the discharge of a Member's duties
Privilege
Oral Questions

October 18th, 2007 / 3:10 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to thank you for finding an appropriate time to hear this question of privilege in what has been a very busy week for us all.

I raise this question of privilege today at the insistence and urging of my constituents as well as people from across British Columbia and Canada who feel an important principle of democracy has been trodden upon. It is not about politics, but the principle of this matter. I will not be quoting any politicians today, but rather everyday Canadians who have written on this issue.

Specifically, it is my contention that my ability to properly function as the duly elected member of Parliament for Skeena—Bulkley Valley has been deliberately obstructed by the member for Cariboo—Prince George.

On August 21, the member for Cariboo—Prince George issued a press release which stated:

[The] MP for Cariboo--Prince George has named Houston Mayor and Conservative candidate Sharon Smith as the person that residents of Skeena--Bulkley Valley can contact when they have concerns or issues with the federal government...I and other BC Conservative MPs will work closely with Sharon Smith as she represents constituents of her riding to the government members. It will be a bonus for people of Skeena--Bulkley Valley to have direct representation to the government on so many issues.

This is a direct quote from the press release, Mr. Speaker.

The member then went on to give a number of interviews to the press, the transcripts of which I have previously forwarded to you. I believe that when you review the original press releases as well as those transcripts, that you will find that the member for Cariboo—Prince George was intentionally informing the media, and through them my constituents, that someone else was the de facto member of Parliament for Skeena--Bulkley Valley.

It is my contention that this is an obstruction of my ability to do the job that my constituents elected me to do in the last election.

Mr. Speaker, I draw your attention to page 87 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice by Marleau and Montpetit which quotes Speaker Bosley, from May 6, 1985, saying:

“It should go without saying that a Member of Parliament needs to perform his functions effectively and that anything tending to cause confusion as to a Member's identity creates the possibility of an impediment to the fulfilment of that Member's functions. Any action which impedes or tends to impede a Member in the discharge of his duties is a breach of privilege. There are ample citations and precedents to bear this out”.

On page 69 of the Twenty-first Edition of Erskine May's Treatise on The Law, Privileges, Proceedings and Usage of Parliament it says:

Each House also claims the right to punish as contempts actions which, while not breaches of any specific privilege, obstruct or impede it in the performance of its functions, or are offences against its authority or dignity, such as disobedience to its legitimate commands or libels upon itself, its Members or its officers.

I highlight this passage because I believe the deliberate actions of the member for Cariboo—Prince George in fact obstructed and impeded the performance of my functions as a member of the House.

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned earlier, I have been strongly urged to seek this ruling by my constituents and indeed by ordinary Canadians from across the country who feel personally affronted by the actions of this member.

Harry Bradley of Toronto wrote:

I am outraged at the recent attempts made by the [member for Cariboo--Prince George] to usurp your power as elected MP of Skeena--Bulkley Valley. It is insulting to you and it is insulting to the constituents who democratically elected you. I wish you luck in the complaint process. You have my full support.

Mr. Ken Smith of New Hazelton, a small community in my riding, copied me on a letter he wrote to the Ethics Commissioner:

The appointment of a Conservative candidate in Skeena--Bulkley Valley riding is both undemocratic and the most blatant example of a conflict of interest I have ever seen. [The member from Skeena--Bulkley Valley] was elected by the people of this riding and as our representative--

Finally, Ashley Morton of St. John's, Newfoundland wrote in regard to the member:

I am a member of his party...There is no question in my mind that you are to be commended for your tremendously high volume and quality of work on behalf of the residents of the riding, and that my party has only made itself look at best ridiculous, and at worst corrupt, through his words.

These are only three of dozens and dozens of emails and letters that we have received from people right across British Columbia in my riding and from across Canada over the past several months, all of which have denounced the actions of the member for Cariboo—Prince George.

Just today in the halls, I met with constituents from my riding who obviously are familiar with this incident and familiar with the case. They are not voters of mine, they voted for another party, but who have urged me to defend the principles of democracy.

We have a duty to uphold the integrity and principles of this House on behalf of the people of Canada, who we all represent. We have a duty to represent and defend the principles of democracy in this place.

Once elected, we represent all of the constituents that come from our individual ridings regardless of their political affiliations, bias or vote. It is important for us to all remember that when the campaign ends, we all work on behalf of the people we represent in our communities right across this great country.

This is not a government for Conservatives. This is a government on behalf of Canadians. I think at times, in the to and fro of debate, parties forget this. Governments consistently forget this. While we might disagree on particular issues, and I think healthy debate is constructive and important for our thriving democracy, we cannot disagree on the one principle that each of us, in representing our constituents from across this country, have the right and duty to represent them fairly and have no right whatsoever to attempt to confuse who the elected and right representative is of constituents who are occupying another riding.

I feel that I have accurately described the situation and the impacts of the deliberate actions of the member of Parliament for Cariboo—Prince George, who intentionally confused my constituents and undermined an election.

Mr. Speaker, should you find a prima facie case of privilege, I am prepared to move the appropriate motion at this time. I move that the matter of the comments made by the member for Cariboo—Prince George be referred to the Standing Committee in Procedure and House Affairs as a question of privilege, and that the committee inform the House of any decisions made by the committee in this manner.

Alleged impediment in the discharge of a Member's duties
Privilege
Oral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, that was, at best, interesting. The member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley in fact has been on somewhat of a tirade for a number of months now claiming that helping constituents that live in his riding who have been unable to get help from him is somehow unethical.

I would like to remind the House and the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley that prior to the 2004 constituency realignment half of his present riding was in my riding of Prince George—Bulkley Valley.

In the years that I served that riding, well I might add, I set a level of service to the constituents of the riding of Prince George—Bulkley Valley out as far as half of his riding that it is obvious he has not been able to follow. Over the last three years I have had an increasing number of constituents from Vanderhoof out to just about Smithers and beyond calling my office, asking for help from my office on issues that they could not get solved by their own MP.

I would like to say that I have responded to constituents from many ridings across the country, even here in Ottawa, who have not been able to get help from their MPs. I say that I am willing to help any taxpayer of this country, in any riding of this country, if his or her MP cannot or is unwilling to help. That is what I am elected for. That is what the taxpayers pay me for.

This grand stretch that the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley is trying to use to say it is somehow unethical to help constituents in this country, wherever they are, if they cannot get it from their own MP is kind of surprising.

Might I add, he has also gone to the Ethics Commissioner. I have to ask, what is he trying to do? Is he trying to somehow undermine the job of the Ethics Commissioner, who he has already contacted regarding this? The Ethics Commissioner is in the middle of making a decision, but that is not good enough for this protester from Terrace.

May I take the time to thank the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley for all of the publicity that he has given this. Since he started this summer, the calls to my riding from people in his riding who cannot get help from him have increased. I want to thank him. Also, the stature of the person who I appointed as a volunteer in his riding to refer people to me if they need help has gone way up because of the rantings of the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley.

I want to close by saying that I reject completely the premise of the member's rantings. Why does he not just let the Ethics Commissioner do her job? If he would just sit tight, I am sure at the end of the day the Ethics Commissioner is going to come down on the side that it is in fact ethical to help somebody in a riding if that person cannot get help from his or her own MP.