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Evidence of meeting #28 for Procedure and House Affairs in the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was question.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

John Hollins  Former Chief Electoral Officer of Ontario, As an Individual

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Thank you.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

We've probably all received them--maybe not all, but I know I have. I've received ten percenters from your party--actually, not ten percenters, in the sense they come in an envelope from your leader. And not always, but on occasion, because they've been doing it for five years, the information has been incorrect.

I've never raised a point of privilege because I've ignored them. But never have I had an issue that was as fundamental as the one you reference, and that's the gun registry. You know that's a hot-button item in parts of Canada. It certainly is in Saskatchewan. It is in many parts of rural Canada. It certainly is where you live. So I can completely understand why you would have been upset, to say the least, when you got something that was so contrary to your stated position for so many years. It shouldn't be allowed to happen.

You referenced the fact that you'd like to get the person or persons who designed it and talk to them, but what else would you like to rectify the situation? Do you want to see another piece go into your riding rectifying and correcting the record, so to speak? Mr. Vellacott has apologized. You've accepted it. That's very gracious of you, and also of him to offer the apology. But is there anything else you think needs to be done to rectify the situation that prompted your point of privilege?

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Perhaps I'll expand that question. I thank you very much for it, by the way.

I've seen ten percenters that went into Bloc ridings after they voted against a particular motion, when it came to some sort of crime bill. And I thought, wow, that's heavy. And then I just saw a recent one on anti-Semitism in some ridings in Quebec, and I said, whoa, where are we going with this?

Generally, sir, what I would do if I had my way is to have us stop the practice of attacking one another and attacking our voting records. If you want to send information to my riding on the good things the Conservative Party has done, go for it. Fill it up. But if you want to attack me or attack a voting record, I could flip it right back.

For example, Mr. Armstrong, a brand-new member of Parliament, voted against an issue for safety in St. John's yesterday. Now, I easily could have done a ten percenter and slammed him, thinking how dare he oppose a safety measure for Newfoundland. But it would have been stupid of me to do that. It would have been a waste of taxpayers' money. It would have been a waste of my staff's time. And why the hell would I do that to a brand-new member of Parliament? It's not appropriate to do that.

I think the House leaders, the whips, whoever, should get together and set some kind of a guideline, an approach to say that if we send these ten percenters to the ridings, then let's have a little bit of civility around them. People look at us during question period, as you know. They look at us as if it's Romper Room for adults. We don't need to extend that childish behaviour.

I'm just as guilty as the next guy. I'm not innocent here in this. But we all need to work together and tone down that nastiness.

You just talked about voting. We want to encourage people to exercise their democratic opportunities. But if we keep sending out this nastiness from all sides, we're just going to turn off the voters. We're wasting taxpayers' money. And I think we could do it a better way, sir.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

I appreciate your opinion on that, but I specifically want to talk about your situation and this incident. That's what we're charged with trying to rectify.

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Precisely.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

So is there anything specifically that you would like to see to try to rectify the situation that prompted you to raise the point of privilege?

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Vellacott's people have already picked up on his apology. And many of the people in my riding consider the case closed. But what they don't understand is that this could still happen, not just to me but to somebody else. So I need to be assured for my own satisfaction that whoever in party central did the design, did the work--I'll use your party as an example because it came from there--that they understand this is completely unacceptable at any level for any person, and that they are assured this will never happen again. If I get that assurance, I'll be satisfied.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Okay. Thank you very much, Peter.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Joe Preston

Thank you, Peter.

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Thank you, sir. Tom is a good guy. I like Tom.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Joe Preston

Monsieur Guimond.

12:15 p.m.

Bloc

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

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

My dear colleague, as you quite rightly pointed out, right now, only one party has ten percenters that are being strongly contested, especially when it comes to points of privilege raised in the House. There is you, who we are hearing from. There is another. A decision is coming. It should be made this afternoon, and it concerns Mr. Cotler and anti-Semitic remarks.

As you noted, we, the Bloc Québécois, got a taste of the same medicine this summer from Conservatives. Among other things, there is talk of a bill that seeks to impose minimum sentences. The members of the Bloc Québécois are against that bill because of the minimum sentences, not because of its intended purpose, which is to protect children. We were flooded with ten percenters from Conservatives in our ridings, saying that the Bloc Québécois was against protecting children. Images were used showing an empty park swing and the shadow of a three-year-old child walking with an adult who looked to be around sixty.

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

That is shameful.

12:20 p.m.

Bloc

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

Is it a pedophile? Is it the child's grandfather?

That is what we endured, Mr. Chair. You are absolutely right. That happened to us this summer. We did not denounce the move when we resumed sitting in September, but it was this summer that we were flooded with that message. Something has to be done because that is totally unacceptable. That kind of behaviour should be penalized: the person who sent the document should face a penalty. It is too easy to do what Mr. Vellacott did and apologize to the House, especially since he probably did not see—you said it, it is within the central party of the Conservatives—the ten percenter that was sent to your riding.

In any case, you are absolutely right. Thank you for raising a point of privilege. In your case, it is the gun registry. Unfortunately, we are not on the same side. If the Conservatives had sent a ten percenter to your riding commending you for your support of getting rid of the registry, you probably would not have raised that point of privilege.

We need to ask whether it is normal to flood the ridings of colleagues with these ten percenters. I will end with this point. This summer, in the span of two-and-a-half weeks, I received 11 at home. I received an English-only ten percenter from someone by the name of Norlock, in Ontario, and my riding is 99.8% francophone. I got a bilingual one from Mr. Galipeau, and the other nine were happily sent out by Josée Verner, Lawrence Cannon and Maxime Bernier.

If the Conservatives think they are helping their cause by sending out such things.... You should see how many emails we received. And this is the party that is supposed to be the guardian of the public purse. Because I am on the Board of Internal Economy, I cannot reveal how much these ten percenters have cost to date or how much spending has gone up.

If you, the Conservatives, think that you will see a political gain from this kind of activity, you have another thing coming.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Joe Preston

Thank you.

Do you have an answer, Peter?

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Yes, I have, very briefly.

Mr. Guimond, thank you very much. You, sir, are a long-serving member of the House, and I will put on the record that in my twelve and a half years as an MP I have received ten percenters from the Liberal Party, I have received them from the former PC Party, I've received them even from myself.

12:20 p.m.

An hon. member

And it was critical.

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

As you know, I'm sometimes critical of my own party in a very open way too.

But I will put on record, and I say this with the greatest respect for the Conservative Party, that I hadn't noticed the level that I've seen since 2006. Since 2006 I have noticed that the rhetoric has been heated up. It's a little bit nastier—I don't know another word for it—than I had ever seen in the past.

I don't know why that is. I would recommend, if I were advising any party—Liberal, Conservative, NDP, Bloc—to tone it down, to talk about the positive things you do, and to lay off the attacks on individuals. Mr. Cotler, for example, a personal friend, a long-time human rights advocate, has received more awards from Israel than I think everybody in Canada combined, and to link him in any way—even to suggest that he and his party may be that way—is beyond the pale, and it needs to stop.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Joe Preston

Thank you.

Monsieur Godin.

November 26th, 2009 / 12:25 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

A little earlier, we heard about Mr. Vellacott's apology. I was there in the House of Commons. You can check the blues, but if memory serves, he basically said that had he read the ten percenter carefully, he might not have signed off on it and that it did come across his desk. He said it came from somewhere else. Do you recall what his exact words were? It was not really him who wrote it, and it was as if he did not give any thought to the importance of the document that came across his desk.

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Godin, I don't recall precisely. I know that he said he would be discussing with the party information that goes out in the future.

I will also put on the record that Mr. Vellacott cannot have been here as long as I've been here and not have wonderful qualities. He is a decent member of Parliament. He's a decent guy. I just think his name happened to be on a ten percenter, which I think, if he had it to do over again, he wouldn't do.

As to the words he actually said, he apologized without reservation and said that he would be talking to his party regarding the content of what goes out in the future. Now, whether he actually saw the one going out, I don't know.

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Talking to his party on the content means it's not his content. If it was his content, why should he go to talk to his party?

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

To be completely frank with you, sir, I can't put words in Mr. Vellacott's mouth. My suggestion is that if you wish to speak to him directly, I'm sure he'd be happy to explain it. I really don't know what he was—

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

The bill he was talking about on the firearms registry was a private member's bill. It was not a Conservative bill.

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Bill C-391 comes from Candice Hoeppner, yes.