House of Commons Hansard #146 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-22.

Topics

Air Transport
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, this indeed is a good news question. As the member just stated, Tuesday was a great day for Hamilton, where they are starting to get the benefit and the experience from our blue sky policy.

As part of it we negotiated an open skies agreement with the United Kingdom last spring. A year later we witnessed new non-stop flights to the United Kingdom from Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, St. John's and Deer Lake.

The business trip to London and the family reunion in Scotland will be cheaper, easier and within the reach of more Canadians than ever before.

Government Buildings
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, on the recommendation of companies belonging to the Bank of Montreal and Royal Bank groups, the government is getting ready to sell nine buildings in its inventory.

This would be unremarkable if the two companies proposing the sale were not also going to get a commission on the sale. The whole thing smacks of conflict of interest.

How can the government claim to be protecting taxpayers' interests when the two banks have a vested interest in suggesting that these buildings be sold so that they can get a commission for brokering the deal?

Government Buildings
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam
B.C.

Conservative

James Moore Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for the Pacific Gateway and the Vancouver-Whistler Olympics

Mr. Speaker, this process is in the best interests of taxpayers and all Canadians.

We will continue to do what we promised to do during the election campaign: respect taxpayers' money. There is no conflict, contrary to what my friend just said. What we are doing here is in the best interests of taxpayers. We are going to carry on with our plan as we said we would.

Taxation
Oral Questions

May 3rd, 2007 / 3 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, northern households spend $15,000 more per year on essentials than other Canadians. Northerners need relief from the high cost of living. Let us make their taxes fair by increasing the northern residents tax deduction.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce says to make the taxes fair. The Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories voted unanimously to make the tax fair.

When the Minister of Finance increased the capital gains he said it was needed as it had not been changed in almost 20 years. It has been 20 years since the working families in the north got some tax fairness. When will the minister bring tax fairness to the north?

Taxation
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North
Alberta

Conservative

Jim Prentice Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Mr. Speaker, this is a subject which I have certainly spoken about with the premier of the territories.

At this point we are focused on economic development in the north. That is the key to create jobs and employment opportunities. There is the Mackenzie Valley pipeline in particular and the $500 million socio-economic fund.

This is a government that is committed to the north. The Minister of Finance has been very committed to economic development and prosperity in the north.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3 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 Dr. Jaime José Matos da Gama, the President of the Assembly of the Portuguese Republic.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

It being Thursday, I believe the member for Westmount—Ville-Marie has a question.

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, could the leader of the government advise the House of the agenda he intends to follow for the rest of this week and through next week?

Could he also confirm to all members of this House that he will give high priority to Bill C-30, Canada's Clean Air Act?

Business of the House
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, today and tomorrow we will continue our focus on making our streets and communities safer by cracking down on crime.

This morning we completed the debate at report stage on Bill C-10. That is a bill to introduce mandatory penalties for gun related crimes and other violent acts. Our government proposed amendments at report stage to restore what the Liberals had gutted from the bill at committee, mainly those aspects that will ensure violent criminals actually serve time in jail. We will be voting on these amendments next week.

We will continue this afternoon with Bill C-22, which is the age of protection legislation, followed by Bill C-27, the dangerous offenders legislation that would require criminals who are convicted on two separate occasions of a violent crime to prove to the court why they are not a danger to the community.

Next week will be strengthening accountability through democratic reform week. It effectively kicked off today when Bill C-16, the fixed dates for elections act, received royal assent.

On Monday we will resume debate on Bill C-43. That is the bill that proposes to give Canadians a say in who they want representing them in the Senate.

Our government will be introducing a number of new measures in the House of Commons next week, which I will address at the appropriate time.

Of course, we still have Bill S-4, the bill to establish Senate term limits, which has been languishing in the Senate for almost a year now. It would be nice if the Senate passed that. It would be nice if the Liberal senators could get on with it, so that we could actually have that bill here in the House of Commons as part of our focus on democratic reform next week.

Tuesday, May 8 and Thursday, May 10 will be allotted days.

Pursuant to Standing Order 66 I would like to conclude debate tomorrow on the 11th report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, and I would like to conclude debate on May 11, 2007 on the 13th report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.

Subject to an agreement with other parties, there may be interest in concluding debate at second reading of Bill C-33, the income tax bill, as early as tomorrow.

On the question of Bill C-30, we see elements of that legislation that we brought forward that are very valuable relating to biodiesel, alternative fuels and so on, and we will seek ways of introducing that in the House of Commons. However, we have absolutely no intention of bringing forward the Liberal carbon tax plan, which is now at the fore of that bill, which would establish an unlimited right to pollute for polluters. All they would have to do is pay and they would have an unlimited right to pollute. That is not our approach. We are bringing in regulations to achieve real reductions in greenhouse gases. That is our approach.

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

That concludes the Thursday question, but I believe the hon. the government House leader has submissions he wishes to make to the Chair on a question of privilege. If that is the case, I would be pleased to hear him on that subject now.

Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities
Privilege
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, I would like to respond to the question of privilege raised by the hon. member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel on May 1, 2007.

The hon. member accused Merlin Preuss, a government official with Transport Canada, of intimidating witnesses who were to appear before the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. This is a very serious allegation, because intimidating witnesses is clearly unacceptable.

However, I maintain that the question of privilege raised by the hon. member is invalid for two reasons. First, there is no proof that the situation described by the hon. member constitutes a prima facie breach of parliamentary privilege. This is a question of the interpretation of facts.

Second, this matter concerns the standing committee's work. Since the committee has not presented its report on the matter, it cannot be examined by the House as a valid question of privilege.

I would first like to present the facts of the situation. Mr. Holbrook, chair of the Canadian Federal Pilots Association, appeared before the committee on February 21.

The hon. member referred to an affidavit by an assistant to Mr. Holbrook. In this affidavit, she indicated that Mr. Preuss had mentioned to her before the meeting of the committee that, if Mr. Holbrook planned to have any Transport Canada inspectors with him, he would “have an issue with it”, the insinuation being that this shows that Mr. Preuss' intention was to intimidate a witness. This allegation was examined by the standing committee at its March 28 meeting. At that time, Mr. Preuss stated that it never was his intention to intimidate or influence potential witnesses. He said, and I quote:

My sole purpose in making the call was to find out whether Mr. Holbrook intended to have civil aviation inspectors appearing with him, so that I might ensure that everyone involved knew of their roles, rights, and responsibilities.

At no time during this brief phone conversation with Mr. Holbrook's assistant did I make any threats regarding the appearance of inspectors before this committee.

There is therefore no evidence to suggest that witnesses have been intimidated. I understand that, during the April 23 meeting of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, the chair actually made remarks to that effect, saying that there was no evidence to support these allegations.

At best, we are dealing with diverging interpretations of the facts with respect to the conversation Mr. Preuss had with Mr. Holbrook's assistant. I submit that there are no grounds to conclude that a prima facie breach of parliamentary privilege had occurred.

From a procedural point of view, I also submit that there can be no prima facie case of privilege at this time, given that the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities has not submitted a report to the House on this matter.

As the House of Commons Procedure and Practice by Marleau and Montpetit indicates on page 128:

Speakers have consistently ruled that, except in the most extreme situations, they will only hear questions of privilege arising from committee proceedings upon presentation of a report from the committee which directly deals with the matter and not as a question of privilege raised by an individual Member.

Since the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities has not tabled a report on the matter, I submit that this is not a valid question of privilege at this time.

Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities
Privilege
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I thank the hon. Leader of the Government in the House of Commons for his comments and observations on the matter. I will take them under advisement and I will give my decision to the House in due time.

The Chair has notice of a question of privilege from the hon. member for Selkirk--Interlake and we will hear him now.

Comments by Member for Winnipeg South Centre
Privilege
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, earlier today I gave notice of my intention to rise on a question of privilege relating to threatening comments made to me on the floor of the House of Commons by the member for Winnipeg South Centre. This occurred just prior to the votes taken last night.

I was in my chair when the member for Winnipeg South Centre approached me in regard to some ten percenters that we had sent into her riding. She said that she was would be taking legal action against the Manitoba Conservative caucus and then went on to say, “You'd better stop doing this or I have a photo and a story which will blow the lid off your caucus”. I really feel that she was trying to intimidate me.

As you well know, Mr. Speaker, evidence of intimidation or threats against members constitute a prima facie question of privilege. This incident was witnessed by the hon. members for Avalon, Palliser, Niagara West—Glanbrook and others who are prepared to support my complaint.

Mr. Speaker, you will be aware of the numerous threatening incidences outlined in Marleau and Montpetit beginning at page 86 that have been considered prima facie evidence of contempts. Should you find that a prima facie case exists, I am prepared to move the necessary motion to refer this matter to committee.

Comments by Member for Winnipeg South Centre
Privilege
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I thank the hon. member for Selkirk--Interlake for his submission. Given the presence or absence of members in the House at the moment, I think it probably prudent that the Chair take this under advisement in case there are other submissions on the matter before a decision could be made. Accordingly, I will take the matter under advisement.

The hon. member for Palliser is also rising on this point and I will hear him now.