House of Commons Hansard #11 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was property.

Topics

Fisheries and Oceans
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, in 2006 the Conservatives promised custodial management outside the 200 mile limit, but now they have done worse than the opposite. Article VI, clause 10 allows NAFO to apply regulation inside Canadian waters. No wonder they stonewalled my request for a copy of the proposed convention.

Why has the minister broken his promise and sold out our sovereignty? The Prime Minister talks about fish or cut bait. When will he stop playing bait and switch?

Fisheries and Oceans
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

St. John's South—Mount Pearl
Newfoundland & Labrador

Conservative

Loyola Hearn Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, again the hon. member has read only part of his documents. He has to spend less time listening to disco music and watching horror movies. He has to start reading files that are pertinent.

No way has this government given away any jurisdiction inside the 200 mile limit. The only time any NAFO country or NAFO can come inside is if we invite them to do work for us and even then we have to agree to their coming. That is standard across the world. That is acceptable.

Justice
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Dykstra St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, just yesterday in my riding of St. Catharines a man who is on probation, a man who drove without a driver's licence and fled the scene of a crime, a man who struck and killed a young woman walking on her way to work, was sentenced to just three and a half years in jail. He will actually serve only three years. Because he was in pretrial custody for six months before his trial, he was given credit for one full year off his sentence.

I ask the justice minister, when are we going to get rid of this appalling two for one justice system and enforce that convicted criminals serve their full sentence?

Justice
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Niagara Falls
Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, first I want to congratulate the member on his appointment as chair of the legislative committee on Bill C-2, the tackling violent crime legislation. I know he will do an excellent job.

I do not comment on specific cases, but in the last election we made reforming the credit system for pretrial custody one of our commitments to Canadians. We have been busy fighting crime in this country with our tackling violent crime bill. We will introduce legislation reforming the Youth Criminal Justice Act and changing Canada's drug laws. We want to get it all done, but as I always say, when it comes to fighting crime in this country, we are just getting started.

Atlantic Accord
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Independent

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of National Defence recently announced that legislation to implement the new agreement with Nova Scotia would be tabled this fall, but last week his cabinet colleague, the government House leader in the other place, said:

There is no legislation to be tabled...people are misinformed if they think this agreement was a new agreement...

The answers could not be more opposite. One minister says there will be legislation and the other minister says there will not. Would the government clarify this so that Nova Scotians can know whether there will be legislation or not and when they will see it?

Atlantic Accord
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, unfortunately, my colleague has his facts wrong. There will be, obviously, legislation forthcoming in the fall. There will be budget amendments tabled in November.

The reality is on this subject matter that Nova Scotians are happy and the government of Nova Scotia is very happy. The premier has spoken on this. The former premier, John Hamm, has spoken on this. Nova Scotians are well served by the flexible and fair approach taken by this government.

The Environment
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to the environment, the Conservatives are starting to look a lot more like the Liberals. Another commissioner of the environment report and another disaster for Canada's environment. Spanning two disastrous regimes, twelve years, four government plans, six department strategies and there is one more failing grade for a government on the environment.

When is the government going to take the issue seriously and start delivering for this country?

The Environment
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, we take the recommendations of the Auditor General's report and the report of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development very seriously. We are going to work hard to implement all of the recommendations to ensure that we do a better job for the environment.

However, I do note that the NDP member is the same member who stood up and supported the Liberal government in its inept ways on the environment and he should be ashamed.

The Environment
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

That will conclude question period for today.

The hon. member for Pickering--Scarborough East is rising on a point of order.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Dan McTeague Pickering—Scarborough East, ON

Mr. Speaker, emanating from question period, the Prime Minister, in response to the leader of the New Democratic Party, suggested in very plain language that no member of the opposition had raised the issue of concern about the Canadian dollar's valuation.

In fact, on September 20, CANOE publication of the Toronto Sun suggested otherwise. In fact, this member of Parliament in his capacity as critic for consumer affairs did indeed raise this. It states:

The federal Liberal Party's consumer affairs critic [the member for Pickering—Scarborough] said it's about time that Canadians started to see an increase in their standard of living as a result of the soaring loonie...

The bottom line is I have raised this with the Prime Minister. He has the same note. I hope the hon. Prime Minister will have the courtesy now to clear the record and point out that the opposition was on this issue long before his party was.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I think the hon. member knows that this would really be a matter for debate. Sometimes members disagree over their interpretation of certain facts. It is not for the Speaker to adjudicate on those kinds of matters, tempting as it might be.

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

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I am now prepared to rule on the question of privilege raised on October 18, 2007 by the hon. member for Skeena-Bulkley Valley concerning the alleged obstruction of his ability to carry out his duties as a member of Parliament.

I would like to thank the hon. member for raising this issue, which is of importance to all members. I would also like to thank the hon. member for Cariboo—Prince George, the hon. House leader of the official opposition, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, the hon. member for Mississauga South and the hon. whip of the Bloc Québécois for their comments.

In bringing this matter to the attention of the House, the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley stated that in a press release issued on August 21, 2007, by the member for Cariboo—Prince George, Ms. Sharon Smith was identified as the person his constituents should contact if they required assistance in dealing with the government or with members on the government side of the House. He alleged that this was an attempt to usurp his role as member for the riding of Skeena—Bulkley Valley and that in so doing it obstructed him in carrying out his proper functions. He also claimed that the effect of the press release and of subsequent statements made by the member for Cariboo—Prince George was to confuse his constituents concerning the fact that he was their duly elected member of Parliament.

In replying to these charges, the member for Cariboo-Prince George stated that his only objective had been to see to it that people in the riding of Skeena-Bulkley Valley received adequate service. He rejected the suggestion that there was any other motive behind his actions and asserted that he had no intent to interfere with his colleague’s ability to do his job. The importance of this issue was underlined by the opposition House leader.

In his remarks, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons drew the Speaker's attention back to what he took to be the crux of the matter, that is, whether the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley had successfully made the case that he had been obstructed in his work as a parliamentarian.

House of Commons Procedure and Practice, p. 71, states:

The rights, privileges and immunities of individual Members of the House are finite, that is to say, they can be enumerated but not extended except by statute or, in some cases, by constitutional amendment...Moreover, privilege does not exist “at large” but applies only in context, which usually means within the confines of the parliamentary precinct and a “proceeding in Parliament”.

In a ruling on May 3, 2006, Debates, page 845, I reminded the House that previous speakers had consistently upheld the right of the House to the services of its members free from “intimidation, obstruction and interference”, but that for that protection of parliamentary privilege to be successfully invoked, the member's activity must be linked to a proceeding in Parliament. This point is clearly set out at page 93 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, which states:

Every Member has duties as a representative of the electorate. A Member may only claim the protection of privilege relating to his or her parliamentary duties—

As I indicated in my remarks when this question was first raised, what is said outside the House is beyond the Speaker's purview.

However, there does exist an important exception to this general principle, one which was cited by the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley. For the benefit of members, I will repeat the citation, which is found at page 87 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice and is taken from Mr. Speaker Fraser's ruling of May 6, 1985.

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 that 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.

Footnote 173 on the same page provides an example of such a case, namely a ruling delivered on May 30, 1985, where an advertisement identifying an unelected individual as a member was found to constitute a breach of privilege.

I have examined with great care the press release and the transcripts provided to me by the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley. I have also taken into consideration the remarks made by the member for Cariboo—Prince George. I am satisfied that there was no intent to mislead the constituents of Skeena—Bulkley Valley concerning the identity of their MP and that the texts I have examined do not do so. I point out, as an example, that the press release explicitly refers to the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley as “an MP from the fourth party in the House”.

Accordingly, while I will concede that the hon. member may well have a grievance, I have to conclude that he was not obstructed in the performance of his parliamentary duties. I cannot therefore find that a prima facie breach of privilege has occurred in this case.

Although that disposes of the procedural point which was raised, I think it is proper to underline to the House that the member for Skeena-Bulkley Valley and other members who intervened have raised important issues concerning the ability of members to advocate for their constituents that may concern members on all sides of the House. The House will recall, specifically, that the member for Mississauga South alleged that he was encountering other difficulties in dealing with the public service and ministers’ offices on behalf of his constituents, and the whip of the Bloc Québécois further alleged that there was at least one further example of misleading information being disseminated to the public concerning who their elected representative is. These allegations may not meet the recognized criteria of matters of privilege but they are not concerns to be dismissed lightly.

Should the procedure and House affairs committee, within whose mandate such matters fall, think it appropriate, it might choose to examine any or all of these issues more closely.

Once again, I would like to thank the hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley and others who made interventions on this important issue for raising a matter which I believe is of concern to all hon. members.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-5, An Act respecting civil liability and compensation for damage in case of a nuclear incident, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act
Government Orders

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Resuming debate. Is the House ready for the question?

Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act
Government Orders

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.