House of Commons Hansard #90 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was refugees.

Topics

Asbestos
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to present a petition signed by literally thousands of Canadians from all across the country who call upon Parliament to take note that asbestos is the greatest industrial killer the world has ever known. In fact, more Canadians now die from asbestos than from all other industrial causes combined.

The petitioners also point out that Canada remains one of the largest producers and exporters of asbestos in the world, spending millions of dollars subsidizing the industry and blocking international efforts to curb its use.

Therefore, the petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to ban asbestos in all its forms and to institute a just transition program for asbestos workers and the communities they live in. They call on the government to end all government subsidies for asbestos in Canada and abroad. The petitioners call it corporate welfare for corporate serial killers. They also call on the government to stop blocking international health and safety conventions designed to protect workers from asbestos, such as the Rotterdam convention.

Asbestos
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

I see the hon. member for St. John's East is rising again. He has already been recognized on presenting petitions. Does the House give its consent for the member to present another petition at this time?

Asbestos
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Asbestos
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for St. John's East.

Search and Rescue
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Jack Harris St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I forgot I had a second petition. This petition is on a different subject.

This petition is in connection with the marine rescue coordination centre in St. John's. The government has announced its closure. The petitioners are asking the government to reverse its decision to close the Newfoundland and Labrador marine rescue coordination centre in St. John's. We have heard from other petitioners before on the same topic.

The petitioners are urging the government to acknowledge and understand that the closure of the centre will mean services will suffer and lives will be put at risk. This is related to the fact that the rescue coordinators have a special, unique knowledge of the ocean and the areas of the coastline that are involved and are familiar with the people who are involved in the work on the ocean, as well as the language and dialect. This is important in times of panic. They indicate that the Newfoundland and Labrador region has the highest proportion of distress incidents in Canada, responding to an annual average of 500 incidents involving 2,900 people, and saving the lives of 600 people in distress every year.

Questions on the Order Paper
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

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Veterans Affairs
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Rob Anders Calgary West, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express my sincere apology for my comments with respect to Mr. Lowther and Mr. David MacLeod.

Further, I want to apologize for any offence my comments may have caused veterans or anyone else. I have, and continue to have, enormous respect for the men and women who have sacrificed in the service of our country. I recognize the democracy we have today is, in large part, attributable to them.

Veterans Affairs
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

I thank the hon. member for that point.

Alleged interference of Minister's ability to discharge responsibilities--Speaker's Ruling
Privilege
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

I am now prepared to rule on the question of privilege raised on February 27 by the Minister of Public Safety regarding cybercampaigns following the introduction in the House by him of Bill C-30, An Act to enact the Investigating and Preventing Criminal Electronic Communications Act and to amend the Criminal Code and other Acts.

I would like to thank the minister for having raised these matters, as well as the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, the House Leader of the Official Opposition, the member for Toronto Centre, the member for Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, the member forSaanich—Gulf Islands, and the member for Westmount—Ville-Marie for their interventions.

In raising his question of privilege, the minister raised three issues, each of which he believed to be a contempt of the House.

The first concerned the use of House resources for the so-called vikileaks30 account on Twitter, which he claimed was used to attack him personally, thereby degrading his reputation and obstructing him from carrying out his duties as a member of Parliament.

The interim leader of the Liberal Party then rose to inform the House that he himself had intended to rise on a question of privilege, having been informed on February 26 that it was an employee of the Liberal research bureau who had been responsible for the vikileaks30 site. The interim leader offered his unequivocal apology and that of the Liberal Party to the minister.

In view of this unconditional apology made personally by the member and on behalf of his party as a whole, and in keeping with what has been done in similar circumstances in the past, I am prepared to consider this particular aspect of the question of privilege closed.

I also wish to inform the House that the House of Commons' policy on acceptable use of information technology resources was applied in this case, given that an unacceptable use of House IT resources occurred.

The minister also raised the matter of an apparent campaign to inundate his office with calls, emails and faxes. This, he contended, hindered him and his staff from serving his constituents, and prevented constituents with legitimate needs from contacting their member of Parliament in a timely fashion.

As the member for Windsor—Tecumseh reminded the House, my predecessor, Speaker Milliken, was faced with a similar situation in 2005 in a matter raised by the former member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell.

In his ruling on June 8, 2005, Speaker Milliken concluded that, while the member had a legitimate grievance that the normal functioning of parliamentary offices had been affected, the members involved and their constituents had still maintained the ability to communicate through several means. Thus, he could not find that it was a prima facie case of privilege, as the members were not impeded in their ability to perform their parliamentary duties.

Having reviewed the facts in the current case, I must draw the same conclusion on the second aspect of the question of privilege.

This brings us to the third and what I consider to be the most troubling issue raised in the question of privilege, that of the videos posted on the website YouTube by the so-called Anonymous on February 18, 22 and 25. These videos contained various allegations about the minister's private life and made specific and disturbing threats.

The minister has stated that he accepts that coping with vigorous debate and sometimes overheated rhetoric are part of the job of a politician but argued that these online attacks directed to both him and his family had crossed the line into threatening behaviour that was unacceptable. He contended that the threatened actions contained in these videos constituted a deliberate attempt to intimidate him with respect to proceedings in Parliament.

In House of Commons Procedure and Practice, Second Edition, it states:

It is impossible to codify all incidents which might be interpreted as matters of obstruction, interference, molestation or intimidation and as such constitute prima facie cases of privilege. However, some matters found to be prima facie include the damaging of a Member’s reputation, the usurpation of the title of Member of Parliament, the intimidation of Members and their staff and of witnesses before committees, and the provision of misleading information.

In spite of the able arguments advanced by the member for Westmount—Ville-Marie, the Chair is in no doubt that the House has full jurisdiction to decide the matter.

As is noted at page 108 of O'Brien and Bosc:

Speakers have consistently upheld the right of the House to the services of its Members free from intimidation, obstruction and interference. Speaker Lamoureux stated in a 1973 ruling that he had “no hesitation in reaffirming the principle that parliamentary privilege includes the right of a member to discharge his responsibilities as a member of the House free from threats or attempts at intimidation.”

Those who enter political life fully expect to be able to be held accountable for their actions to their constituents and to those who are concerned with the issues and initiatives they may advocate.

In a healthy democracy, vigorous debate on issues is encouraged. In fact, the rules and procedures of this House are drafted to allow for proponents and opponents to discuss, in a respectful manner, even the most difficult and sensitive of matters.

However, when duly elected members are personally threatened for their work in Parliament, whether introducing a bill, making a statement or casting a vote, this House must take the matter very seriously.

As noted by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, threats or attempts to influence a member’s actions are considered to be breaches of privilege.

I have carefully reviewed the online videos in which the language used does indeed constitute a direct threat to the minister in particular, as well as other members. These threats demonstrate a flagrant disregard of our traditions and a subversive attack on the most fundamental privileges of this House.

As your Speaker and the guardian of those privileges, I have concluded that this aspect, the videos posted on the Internet by anonymous, therefore, constitutes a prima facie question of privilege and I invite the minister to move his motion.

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs
Privilege
Routine Proceedings

March 6th, 2012 / 10:25 a.m.

Provencher
Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews Minister of Public Safety

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for that ruling. I would make the following motion:

That the matter of the threats to interference with an attempted intimidation of the hon. member for Provencher be referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs
Privilege
Routine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs
Privilege
Routine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs
Privilege
Routine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.