House of Commons Hansard #174 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was gun.

Topics

Question No. 213
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Gatineau, QC

With regard to leases signed by the government in the National Capital Region, what is: (a) the number of such leases expiring in 2006 in the Ottawa region and in the Outaouais region; (b) the number of such leases expiring in 2007 in the Ottawa region and in the Outaouais region; (c) the number of such leases expiring in 2008 in the Ottawa region and in the Outaouais region; and (d) the number of vacant premises in the Ottawa region and in the Outaouais region in 2007?

Question No. 213
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam
B.C.

Conservative

James Moore Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the response is as follows: Office Space: a) Expiring leases in calendar year 2006: 68* (57 NCA Ontario and 11 NCA Quebec) b) Expiring leases in calendar year 2007 : 64 (56 NCA Ontario and 8 NCA Quebec) c) Expiring leases in calendar year 2008 : 93 (87 NCA Ontario and 6 NCA Quebec) d) Vacant premises in NCA for 2007: 5 (4 NCA Ontario and 1 NCA Quebec)

Commercial Space: a) 125 leases signed by the government expiring in 2006 in the NCA Ontario and 43 leases signed by the government expiring in 2006 in the Outaouais region; b) 115 leases signed by the government expiring in 2007 in the NCA Ontario and 15 leases signed by the government expiring in 2007 in the Outaouais region; c) 28 leases signed by the government expiring in 2008 in the NCA Ontario and 9 leases signed by the government expiring in 2008 in the Outaouais region d) 34 vacant premises in the NCA Ontario and 1 vacant premises in the Outaouais region in 2007.

*For this report, we assumed that each available option would be exercised. Between June 2006, the date on which question No. 59 was answered, and December 31, 2006, PWGSC amended four leases that were expiring in 2006 to postpone the end date to a subsequent year. The consequence of doing this was that the number of expiring leases was reduced on response a) of question No. 213.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.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, if Question No. 207 could be made an order for return, this return would be tabled immediately.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Question No. 207
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Colleen Beaumier Brampton West, ON

With regard to the Department of Canadian Heritage’s Plans and Priorities for the Multiculturalism Program: (a) for the fiscal years 2005-2006 to 2009-2010, what is the actual and planned spending for all multiculturalism programs falling under the program activities “Promotion of Intercultural Understanding” and “Participation in Community and Civic Life”; (b) for the fiscal years 2005-2006 to 2009-2010, was any multiculturalism funding reallocated and will any multiculturalism funding be reallocated and, if so, (i) to which departments, (ii) how much funding has each department specifically received or will receive, (iii) to what purposes specifically; (c) for the fiscal years 2005-2006 to 2009-2010, was any multiculturalism funding allocated or will any multiculturalism funding be allocated and to what purpose; (d) what was the total value of multiculturalism funding authorized and released by the Minister’s Office on the last two days of the 2006-2007 fiscal year; (e) in 2006-2007, what was the total value of multiculturalism funding allocated by the Department but not released to reimburse actual expenditures occurred by the organization; (f) who specifically is the “Multiculturalism Champion” and what is his or her mandate; (g) who specifically sits on the Departmental Steering Committee on Multiculturalism and what is its mandate; and (h) once multiculturalism is mainstreamed into the day to day operations of the Department, will the Multiculturalism Program exist as an independent program or department and will it or will it not receive funding directly as an independent program?

(Return tabled)

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, finally, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The Chair has notice of a question of privilege from the hon. member for Selkirk—Interlake.

Press Release by Member for Etobicoke Centre
Privilege
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege based on a press release issued by the member for Etobicoke Centre in which he makes false statements, and accuses me of plagiarism and voting against a motion I did not vote against.

I believe this allegation by the member for Etobicoke Centre is an action taken with the intended affect of having me withdraw my private member's bill, Bill C-459, which directly affects the representation of my constituents and performance of my privileged parliamentary duties.

In order to begin to correct the public record on this issue, I want to outline the factual course of events culminating in the presentation of my private member's bill, Bill C-459, An Act to establish a Ukrainian Famine and Genocide Memorial Day and to recognize the Ukrainian Famine of 1932-33 as an act of genocide. All of these events can be backed up by emails sent and received by my office and those of my colleagues and legislative services.

First, as someone of Ukrainian heritage, I was in communication with other members of this House as early as last year on my interest in working on issues related to the Canadian Ukrainian community and my interest in Ukrainian issues.

In the spring of this year it was suggested to me that recognizing the Ukrainian famine as genocide with a memorial day in November would be an important issue to address this year, as it is the 75th anniversary of the famine of 1932.

I discussed this with Lisa Shymko of the Canadian Friends of Ukraine and my colleague Senator Andreychuk. I was also part of a meeting with the executive director of the Shevchenko Foundation on various issues related to the Ukrainian Canadian community in Canada and holodomor was discussed. I recently received an appreciative letter from this organization for my work on presenting this bill.

I want to give full credit to Senator Andreychuk who moved a similar motion a few years ago in the other place which was adopted unanimously. The senator shared her expertise and encouraged me to proceed with a similar motion or bill in the House, and provided assistance to me with the wording and communications strategy for my bill.

I consulted with two of my colleagues over the wording and whether it should be done as a motion or bill. I decided it should be a bill and I submitted my wording and requested legislative services on May 3, 2007 to have the bill drafted. My office received a rough draft of the bill on May 8 and it was approved on May 16. The request for final formatting and translation was made May 16, 2007. I gave notice of my bill on May 31, 2007, before the member for Etobicoke Centre gave notice of his bill, and I introduced the bill for first reading on June 13, 2007.

The member for Etobicoke Centre did not give notice of his bill until the day after I gave notice of my bill and he did not introduce it until much later. The notice paper, legislative services and my office emails can confirm all of these dates.

As is clear from this record of dates, I could not have possibly known of the content of his bill and therefore his accusations of plagiarism are truly false. I was only informed that there was a bill related to mine, but that the two bills were substantially different from each other and that there was no problem in proceeding with my bill.

I want to make it very clear that the wording of my bill was established in consultation with my colleagues in April and submitted for drafting on May 3, over a month before I heard about the member for Etobicoke Centre's bill and more than a month before his introduction of Bill C-450 only after which I would have first had the opportunity to see the text of his bill. Clearly, I could not have possibly plagiarized his bill.

On the evening of June 13, 2007 in the House, I sought further confirmation from the table officer on duty on the determination of any substantive difference between my bill and the bill of the member for Etobicoke Centre, who I was now aware had given notice of and introduced a similar bill.

I received confirmation on Monday, June 18 that the decision on whether a bill is substantively different is made by you, Mr. Speaker, after an initial assessment by the journals branch.

I am therefore raising this point of privilege because I believe, based on the events as outlined above, that it is clear that the member for Etobicoke Centre, who knows full well that I could not have seen the text of his bill when I gave notice of my bill, Bill C-459, and yet proceeded to issue the press release in question.

Further, when I submitted my wording and asked for it to be drafted in April of this year as a private member's bill, I had no knowledge of the member for Etobicoke Centre's intention to submit a similar bill.

Further to my question of privilege, he states in his press release that I voted against his motion to adopt his bill at all stages when he knows that I did not vote against his motion. That is the normal procedure for both Conservative and past Liberal governments not to fast track private member's bills, whether it be my own bill or an opposition member's bill.

The order paper is full of worthy bills and they all follow a uniform process of debate and vote in a fair system of precedence. The member for Etobicoke Centre is trying to queue jump in front of others in the order of precedence.

I would like to point to a statement made by a previous Speaker that I think applies to this situation. Speaker Fraser said:

The unjust damaging of a Member’s good name might also be seen as constituting an obstruction. The privileges of a Member are violated by any action which might impede him or her in the fulfilment of his or her duties and functions. It is obvious that the unjust damaging of a reputation could constitute such an impediment.

I think the statement makes it clear that my privilege has been violated by the member for Etobicoke Centre's slanderous and intimidating acts.

There are further examples where items published in newspapers and actions taken outside the House have been found by Speakers to establish a prima facie question of privilege due to their intimidating and chilling effect upon a member's ability to perform parliamentary duties. I point to Speaker Bosley's ruling of May 6, 1985, where a newspaper advertisement was deemed to impact a member's privilege. He said:

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.

Further examples include Speaker Jerome's ruling of December 6, 1978, as well as a ruling on a March 9, 1998 question of privilege where a newspaper article was argued to constitute an attempt to intimidate the Speaker and collectively the House. Speaker Parent ruled that there was a prima facie case of privilege.

On March 16, 1983 Mr. Mackasey raised a question of privilege in order to denounce accusations made in a series of articles appearing in the Montreal Gazette, to the effect that he was a paid lobbyist. On March 22, 1983 on page 24027 of Hansard the Speaker ruled that he had a prima facie question of privilege. The reasons given by the Speaker from page 29 of Selected Decisions of Speaker Jeanne Sauvé state:

Not only do defamatory allegations about Members place the entire institution of Parliament under a cloud, they also prevent Members from performing their duties as long as the matter remains unresolved, since, as one authority states, such allegations bring Members into “hatred, contempt or ridicule”. Moreover, authorities and precedents agree that even though a Member can “seek a remedy in the courts, he cannot function effectively as a Member while this slur upon his reputation remains”. Since there is no way of knowing how long litigation would take, the Member must be allowed to re-establish his reputation as speedily as possible by referring the matter to the Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections.

On page 251 of Joseph Maingot's Parliamentary Privilege in Canada, 3rd ed. there is a reference to members. It says:

The House of Commons is prepared to find contempt in respect of utterances within the category of libel and slander and also in respect of utterances which do not meet that standard. As put by Bourinot, “any scandalous and libellous reflection on the proceedings of the House--” and “libels upon members individually--”.

I would also refer to a Speaker's ruling from October 29, 1980 at page 4213 of Hansard. The Speaker said:

--in the context of contempt, it seems to me that to amount to contempt, representations or statements about our proceedings or of the participation of members should not only be erroneous or incorrect, but, rather, should be purposely untrue and improper and import a ring of deceit.

I also want to object to another factual error in his press release which is damaging to my reputation in the community. The member for Etobicoke Centre stated that I and the government House leader voted against his motion to pass his bill at all stages. Neither of us voted against his motion.

I therefore insist that the member for Etobicoke Centre immediately issue an apology and a retraction request to the Canadian and Ukrainian press for libellous claims and false statements. Further, I ask that he apologizes in the House for making a statement so damaging to my reputation.

Finally, I am very disappointed in the member for Etobicoke Centre for not even approaching me to discuss this issue and to get his facts straight before launching his offensive and slanderous press release.

Press Release by Member for Etobicoke Centre
Privilege
Routine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, these matters have come before the House in the past. There are some details which have been put on the record by the hon. member. I will undertake to get the blues to him as soon as possible, so that he can consider the appropriate steps that the member has suggested.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask that you withhold or defer your decision until the member has had an opportunity to address them.

Press Release by Member for Etobicoke Centre
Privilege
Routine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

There is no need to withhold a decision. I have listened with care to what the hon. member for Selkirk—Interlake has had to say.

I have stressed previously that in my view press releases issued by members are not things that are subject to questions of privilege in the House. All the examples that he cited in his argument were printed newspaper articles. He has not cited a single case where this press release has made it into print. It may be that people who saw the press release knew more about the facts than as suggested by the hon. member and did not think it was accurate, and so chose not to print part of it. I have no idea.

However, unless the hon. member has some evidence that this has been printed, and even then I may have doubts about this one, there appears to be a dispute as to facts. The hon. member has raised the issues. He has made clear what his position is in respect of allegations that were made by another colleague. It is a dispute as to facts. I do not think it is a matter of the member's privileges being breached.

The fact that somebody has suggested that because his bill is a copy of somebody's else's that this somehow constitutes a breach of privilege, to my mind, is unlikely. He has made it clear that it was not, for whatever reasons. He has given his reasons, and he has indicated the dates of filing and all that. It seems to me the matter has been cleared up by his statement and I do not think it is necessary for either the House or a committee to get involved in a discussion about the details of all these disputes.

If the hon. member wishes to go to the committee and raise the matter there, I am sure the committee can decide whether it wants to bother hearing the issue. However, from the point of view of the House and the Speaker making a ruling whether the hon. member's privileges have been breached, I am afraid I am at a loss to see a breach of privilege in the fact that some other member said something else outside the House about what somebody else did.

That is the position I have taken on these kinds of disputes for some time now, as the hon. member, I am sure, is aware and I take it again now. In my view, there is not a question of privilege raised in the issues that he has brought to the House today.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-6, An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, as reported (with amendment) from the committee.