House of Commons Hansard #155 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was chair.

Topics

Alleged Conduct of Member for Ottawa--Orléans
Privilege
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to raise with you in the House an occurrence that is deeply troubling to me as an individual member of Parliament. It is the first time that I have experienced this kind of occurrence in my three short years as a member of Parliament.

During question period the member for Ottawa—Orléans physically crossed the floor and began screaming at me immediately after I posed my second question during question period.

I believe this is a serious question of privilege, Mr. Speaker. The member was clearly out of control, using unparliamentary language and in a threatening fashion grabbed my left shoulder and only left my side when several of my colleagues urged him to stop and to leave, but he would not.

Alleged Conduct of Member for Ottawa--Orléans
Privilege
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Alleged Conduct of Member for Ottawa--Orléans
Privilege
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

He was clearly completely out of control, raising his voice, flailing his arms, gesticulating in a threatening fashion and making wild accusations.

Alleged Conduct of Member for Ottawa--Orléans
Privilege
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Alleged Conduct of Member for Ottawa--Orléans
Privilege
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order. We have to be able to hear the question of privilege. The member has been recognized as having the floor to explain his question of privilege. We will have some order. The hon. member for Ottawa South.

Alleged Conduct of Member for Ottawa--Orléans
Privilege
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

As I was saying, Mr. Speaker, even at the urging of the colleagues around me, he simply would not stop. He would not leave until he realized that he was being video filmed just as my colleague, the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, was rising to speak. He then ran out of the camera's range because he was being caught by the camera lens.

This is not the first time that we have seen this kind of occurrence during this Parliament. This happened once before with the member for Nepean—Carleton who crossed the floor to threaten the member for Mississauga South. He was subsequently forced by you, Mr. Speaker, to withdraw his remarks and publicly apologize.

This is a serious occurrence in an instant when I felt for the first time in my young parliamentary career threatened by a member of the House.

There is clearly enough here, in my view, to warrant a question of privilege. I would submit, Mr. Speaker, that if you examine the video footage which was captured here on tape, you will see the occurrence. I also think this is a particularly egregious and serious matter because the member is the Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole of this House of Commons.

Alleged Conduct of Member for Ottawa--Orléans
Privilege
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

An hon. member

An officer of this House.

Alleged Conduct of Member for Ottawa--Orléans
Privilege
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

He is an officer of the House of Commons and his obligation is to conduct himself with the highest integrity. Not only is he one of us as a member of Parliament, he is entrusted with a special responsibility of upholding a code of conduct, of upholding the rules, of upholding a type of practice as a member of Parliament that we should all be aspiring to replicate.

I would expect, Mr. Speaker, in this case, that you investigate this matter, that you review the tapes and that you see that this is again part of a pattern of conduct. When the government does not like what it hears, it dispatches members of Parliament across the floor to threaten members of Parliament. It is a serious matter, the kind of matter that we might expect in some of the developing countries in which I spent much of my career, but certainly not here in the House of Commons of Canada. I believe if you check with other colleagues who sit around me as well, they can verify that every single word I have pronounced here this afternoon is in fact true.

Alleged Conduct of Member for Ottawa--Orléans
Privilege
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I believe that the Conservative reaction to this very serious question of privilege raised by my colleague for Ottawa South clearly shows what this party thinks of the rules of this House.

On this side of the House, we also witnessed the conduct of the member for Ottawa—Orléans who, moreover, is the Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House. Even though he is a chair occupant, he must retain the confidence of this House accorded to him in that role of Deputy Chair of Committees of the whole, just as you must carry out your responsibilities, which, I might add, you do properly.

I will quote from the second edition of Professor Maingot's Parliamentary Privilege in Canada, on page 230, where he deals with the right of members to speak freely in this House and in committee, without any obstruction or intimidation. The conduct of the member for Ottawa—Orléans and Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole is an act of intimidation directed at the member for Ottawa South, who was only doing his job as a parliamentarian. I quote from Maingot:

Members are entitled to go about their parliamentary business undisturbed. The assaulting, menacing, or insulting of any Member on the floor of the House or while he is coming or going to or from the House, or on account of his behaviour during a proceeding in Parliament, is a violation of the rights of Parliament.

This quote from Maingot concludes as follows:

Any form of intimidation...of a person for or on account of his behaviour during a proceeding in Parliament could amount to contempt.

The conduct we saw from this side of the House is very serious and, to some extent, calls into question whether the member for Ottawa—Orléans has the legitimate moral authority to occupy the chair when you are not in it. I refer you to your responsibilities as Speaker of the House. Page 79 of Marleau and Montpetit clearly describes the authority of the speaker.

A further limitation on the freedom of speech of Members is provided by the authority of the Speaker under the Standing Orders to preserve order and decorum, and when necessary to order a Member to resume his or her seat—

In conclusion, I believe you should take a serious look at this matter and remember that when we ask a question in this House—whether or not the government likes the question—it is our privilege to do so, as we are representing the people who elected us democratically, even though there are people here who think that it is not partisan.

As I said yesterday, this is not a bridge club. We have people to represent. The member for Ottawa South was just representing the people in his riding who elected him democratically. And he has the right to do so unimpeded, just as the member for Ottawa—Orléans, who is the deputy chair of committees of the whole, has done.

We ask that you conduct a thorough investigation.

Alleged Conduct of Member for Ottawa--Orléans
Privilege
Oral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Royal Galipeau Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am glad that somebody raised a question of privilege. In fact, if anyone's privilege has been breached, the member for Ottawa—Orléans' has. The members of this House are well aware that since I have been carrying out the role that my voters and all members assigned to me on April 5 of last year, I have tried to maintain the greatest possible degree of impartiality, without partisanship and without attacking any member of this House, regardless of party affiliation.

I must say that today, I was very surprised to hear the member for Ottawa South attack me personally when I was not in a position to defend myself. Because I respect the impartiality of the position to which the House has appointed me, I do not engage in partisanship. I find the double standard a bit strange.

The fourth paragraph on page 522 of Marleau and Montpetit's House of Commons Procedure and Practice reads as follows:

Remarks directed specifically at another Member which question that Member's integrity, honesty or character are not in order.

The honourable member for Ottawa South specifically cast aspersions on the reputation of two members of the governing party, including the reputation of a chair occupant who, of course, was unable to defend himself. I went over to the member for Ottawa South, who is, as it happens, an old friend, to tell him that I thought that was a bit low. That's all.

There is no doubt that there was a breach of privilege and it just so happens that the member whose privilege was breached is the one talking to you now, the member for Ottawa—Orléans.

Alleged Conduct of Member for Ottawa--Orléans
Privilege
Oral Questions

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, there can be no doubt that the physical accosting of one member of Parliament by another amounts to contempt of Parliament and it amounts certainly to a question of privilege.

It does not matter what members think of the questions asked or the answers given. When the reaction of a member of Parliament amounts to a physical approach in an intimidating manner and a physical accosting, that does cross the line.

Mr. Speaker, I do not think this matter can rest where it is at the present time. I think it is important that you review the record, including the tapes of the proceedings, not only because this involves a dispute between two members of Parliament, but because one of those members of Parliament is in fact an officer of the House, an officer responsible, at least in part, for the decorum in the House.

If what has been alleged here in fact transpired, although I was not a personal witness to it but obviously many members of Parliament were, I believe, therefore, it is absolutely unacceptable to leave this situation hanging in the air. It must be further adjudicated by you, Mr. Speaker, and I would simply want to advise the Chair that if you do find that there is here a prima facie case of privilege, then the member for Ottawa South would be prepared to move the appropriate motion.

Alleged Conduct of Member for Ottawa--Orléans
Privilege
Oral Questions

3:20 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, I did not intend to speak because I did not witness the incident that was alleged. However, I see that did not stop the Liberal House leader from speaking to the matter in any event, so I thought I might add what I have to say.

First, the member for Ottawa South misrepresented the circumstances in a quite obvious fashion. He suggested that the individual in question, the member for Ottawa—Orléans, crossed the floor to talk to him. All of us are fully aware that the member for Ottawa—Orléans sits on the same side of the House as the member for Ottawa South. That is clear and obvious to everyone.

Second, I think it is of significance, as the Liberal House leader pointed out, that the member for Ottawa—Orléans does occupy a position as an officer of the House. The member for Ottawa—Orléans makes continuous efforts to participate in the House in only the most non-partisan fashion. If everybody looks at his record, he has refrained from participating in any debates in the House for that reason.

The member for Ottawa—Orléans has tried to maintain his position of non-partisanship and yet that did not stop the member for Ottawa South from attacking his character and dragging him into a partisan debate, of which he had not been part in the past, and he was obviously in a position where, if he were to respect that approach of non-partisanship that he has always utilized, he would be entirely unable to defend himself.

I think those are particular considerations that you, Mr. Speaker, should take into account as you consider this matter.

Alleged Conduct of Member for Ottawa--Orléans
Privilege
Oral Questions

3:20 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I think we had a similar incident only about a week ago that was raised on a question of privilege where the hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre approached the member for Selkirk—Interlake, I believe, and not only threatened him but actually indicated that if he did not stop putting 10-percenters in the hon. member's riding, she would then produce a list and a photograph that would bring the Conservative caucus down.

The member for Winnipeg South Centre then subsequently apologized the following day but we have not heard a ruling from the Speaker on the original question of privilege. I see a lot of commonality between what the member opposite is saying, the member for Ottawa South.

I would appreciate your consideration of that fact, Mr. Speaker.

Alleged Conduct of Member for Ottawa--Orléans
Privilege
Oral Questions

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The Chair will examine the tapes and the transcript of the proceedings to see if there is a question of privilege here and will get back to the House in due course. I will certainly be examining the statements made by all hon. members who have made submissions today on this point.

I will leave the matter there. I believe the members involved have had their opportunity to express their views on this and, therefore, that concludes the matter for the time being.

Canadian Grain Handling and Transportation System
Routine Proceedings

May 16th, 2007 / 3:25 p.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, a document entitled, “Monitoring the Canadian Grain Handling and Transportation System—Annual Report—Crop Year 2005-06”.